Planning failures…

My sister is currently in hospital having some major surgery. The front line staff have been great, but there seems to be a total absence of planning around the user-experience of the hospital that leaves me feeling like it is all a bloody big joke. These things stand out:

  • A big new hospital has been builtrecently. Unfortunately it is not big enough to house all the departments for the two existing (old and decrepit) hospitals on the same site, or the other hospital about 2 miles away. Now we have 4 hospitals in various states of repair, some of which have the same departments split across multiple sites. This should all be one hospital, then you would know where you have to go. FAIL.
  • The new hospital is up and running, but some of the roads to it are not properly finished yet. FAIL.
  • On the site in question there are 3 distinct hospitals, but the is nowhere near enough parking to cope with them. Some of the staff told me they have trouble parking! Today I spent 30 minutes trying to find a parking space. A good 15 minutes of this time was spent in a car park with no spaces left. The top floor had been closed, reducing the capacity, but the ticket machine still let people in based on the full capacity. There was a guy letting us out for free because they knew there were no spaces, but they didn’t bother telling the queues of people still coming in they were sitting in a 15 minute queue for no possibility of parking. I was hoping to catch 30 minutes of visiting time with my sister before she went to surgery. As it is I got about 2 seconds as they were putting her in the lift, and I was so out of breath from running up 5 flights of stairs all I managed to say was have a good one. FAIL.
  • The first car park I tried was really poorly designed, such that people wanting to leave had to drive round in the same queue as people coming in. This added to the congestion and frustration. FAIL.
  • The lifts in the building are so slow and there aren’t enough of them I’ve been forced to use the stairs every time. I don’t mind so much, but it’s a bit off to expect my mom in her sixties to climb 5 very long flights of stairs, which is what we had to do yesterday. FAIL.

Hospitals are about people so they should be planned and designed to maximize the user experience. A negative user experience affects everyone. The patients are anxious because they wonder where their visitors are. The visitors are sitting in their cars going nuts. The staff have to deal with irate patients and visitors who are freaking out because to factors that are nothing to do with them. The people involved in planning the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham should be totally ashamed of themselves. If they came to me looking for a job and I knew they were involved in this project I would send them packing!