Roger Easter (RE): Well good morning to you ladies. This is Roger Easter here from the Caterham Rotary Club and I’m with Lisa Wood and Alison Williams and they’re very, very much involved with the Minor Injury Unit here at the Caterham Dene Hospital. Now I know a came a few months ago, in fact more than a few months ago about 18 months so that’s a year and a half.
Lisa Wood (LW): Yes.
RE: And the service of the Minor Injury Unit had just got started. So, let’s just go back to that, when did it actually officially start? Can you remember?
Alison Williams (AW): 3 years ago. October 1st we opened.
LW: Yes. October 2011 we opened our doors to the public.
RE: And you had roughly how many staff?
AW: Just us two.
LW: Just us two.
RE: Just the two of you? And obviously you had access to all the different equipment that exists here within the hospital. There’s x-ray machines, the new eye machine…
AW: Which was bought by the Rotary.
RE: By the Rotary club, thank you. Now the times of opening then, you were doing a more limited times then, we’ll come on to the more current situation in a moment, what sort of service were you providing then?
AW: We used to open Monday – Friday then 9-5 and now today we are 7 days a week.
RE: Yes and particularly then you were seeing what on average at the early stage patients of?
LW: Probably about 6 a day maybe at the beginning and now our numbers have increased to about 200 a week we’re seeing on a…
RE: That’s a phenomenal increase.
RE: What do you put that down to then?
LW: Obviously now we open 9 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock in the evening, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and I think people know we’re here now whereas before, when we started, although we advertised it I don’t think the public actually knew where we were and what we were doing so, now the local community know more about what we do and understand what we’re doing and so we’ve seen a steady increase in numbers over the last 3 years.
AW: I think a lot of it is word-of-mouth too.
RE: Yes, that in recommendations.
AW: Yes, I think so. I mean there have been sort of articles in the local press and things like that but, a lot of the patients if they come up and we chat to them and they very often say that they’ve spoken to somebody who has advised them to come up here.
AW: Which is nice.
RE: That’s very good. What about GP practices, you get referrals from them?
LW: Yes, we get numerous referrals from GP surgeries or people who have walked in to get an appointment with their GP and have sprained their ankle or hurt their head or eye and they’re advised to come up and also the pharmacists have been quite instrumental in sending patients up to us. If they’ve got problems and they go to the pharmacy and say that they’ve maybe cut their leg, I think they quite often say to come up. Also the opticians will send patients up if they have eye injuries. So we get various referrals from various places.
RE: Did you have to make an approach to all of those organisations or has it literally just evolved.
LW: No it’s just evolved. Obviously the GPs all knew we were opening because we work very closely with them but the other agencies I think just realised we were here and have sent people up.
RE: Now looking at the current situation, and I think it’s fair to say it was in existence when you first started up 3 years ago, there were, as I see it, two major restrictions. One is that any patient seen had to be at least 17?
RE: 18 and above and this is not a sub-unit of the A&E. In other words, if somebody has got something seriously wrong, they shouldn’t be directing themselves here they should be going direct to East Surrey.
LW: Absolutely. This is a Minor Injury Unit and it is for people who have a minor injury. So, if you have chest pain, you’re short of breath, crushing headache, or you’ve been involved in a really nasty car accident you should still be going to A&E.
RE: And I suppose somebody who wasn’t aware of that came in and said “I’ve got a bit of a pain in my chest” what would you do there in that situation?
AW: Make sure they were safe. Probably carry out a few diagnostic tests and then we’d call an ambulance because they’d need to be down in the acute.
RE: Acute ward. Yes. Ok now 3 years, business, I’m calling it business, has expanded to 200 a week. What do you do about, you know, improving your service? You know, do you look for feedback from your patients? How do you go about it?
LW: We have a nationally recognised audit sheet, survey sheet, that we ask patients to complete when they come here. It’s called the Friends and Family Test and we have really excellent results from that, we get a lot of feedback. The majority of it, I must say, is positive.
LW: If there is any negative feedback, for example if somebody said they had to wait a long time or the area wasn’t as clean as they would’ve expected, obviously we would read those comments because we read every single comment that is written.
RE: Do you?
LW: Yes and we will learn from those comments and we will make improvements.
RE: Yes I didn’t want to infer that you didn’t read them but you actually do?
LW: We read every single one of them.
RE: It doesn’t go into a computer, it isn’t fed in. That’s really what I was getting at.
AW: We actually get given a copy of all the comments which is really nice. Particularly nice for the staff as a lot of them get mentioned so, you know, that’s positive feedback for them. So it’s good.
LW: And the results are actually displayed in the waiting room so that the patients coming in can actually see, with some of the comments. Obviously, because we have so many returns, we can’t put all of the comments up but we do put some of the comments up so people can see.
RE: Yes I saw that when I was sat in the main reception area.
AW: That’s right.
RE: The board is very prominent and does show some forms which is excellent. Ok so, service is running well, very happy patients, what sort of plans have you got for the future?
LW: Well there was a lot of talk about taking children.
LW: Taking children over the age of 5. Unfortunately, those plans were scuppered slightly by the local health economy. We are still thinking of taking children. We’re not quite sure when but that would be our next development really. The children.
RE: Well that’s excellent. Certainly, coming back to the service you’re providing, I know that currently in Purley they’re desperate to keep their service going. They’re finding that people aren’t going there which is obviously sad. Whereas here I mean it’s obviously an important part of the community and the service provided by this hospital.
LW: It’s a very, very important part of the community. You only have to listen to the patients that attend here and how fondly they think of Caterham Dene Hospital and the fact that we can give them a service which is close to home and fulfils all their needs should they have a minor injury just makes our job so much more satisfactory and you get so much job satisfaction I think from seeing local patients.
AW: A lot of the patients also love the idea that the community hospital is being used because at one stage we lost so many community hospitals. So, to be able to come up to one of these little hospitals and it’s providing lots of these services, they love it. They love it. That they don’t have to go into one of the big trusts they can come up to the local hospital.
RE: I think the fact that sometimes you have to sit in, as it would’ve been in A&E, and maybe you are sitting there with a sprained ankle, with the best will in the world, you are going to be further down what they call the triage list than having to deal with a car accident and they are very busy. Here you can walk in and I guess you’re seen certainly within an hour?
LW: Yeah, we try to get the majority of patients seen within the hour. If a patient is having to get an x-ray or a would sutured or so on and so forth, they may be here a bit longer but we do try and keep them to under an hour. The other thing to say is that we have very, very close ties with East Surrey Hospital so if a patient was to come with a strain and we x-rayed it and found that he had a break, we would be able to plaster the patient and give them a set of crutches but we would make the appointment down at East Surrey Hospital, so the follow-up appointment would be down at East Surrey Hospital and should that fracture, in our opinion, need a specialist to have a look at the patient before that clinic time, we would then refer the patient down to East Surrey Hospital for the same day treatment for them to have a look and assess it themselves. The same with eye injuries as well.
AW: Yes and ENT.
LW: Yes, ear, nose and throat problems. We have very close ties with East Surrey so if the patient need to go down there the same day, we can get that organised.
RE: Brilliant, excellent. Well thank you very much indeed for allowing me to interview you here this morning and I shall look forward to returning in about a years time and we’ll see how you’re getting on. So thank you very much Lisa and thank you very much Alison.
LW: Thank you Roger.
AW: Thank you.