As I have explained before, having Cystic Fibrosis (CF) I must attend clinics regularly. Previously, this happened at Gartnavel hospital, which was the cystic fibrosis unit for the West of Scotland. However this unit was transferred to the newly build Southern General/ Queen Elizabeth University hospital in 2015.
I was one of the lucky (or unlucky, however you want to look at it) Cystic Fibrosis patients to be the first at the new hospital. There is lots of publicity on the news about how good/ bad the hospital is. So I thought I’d share patient’s perspective, instead of just reports on waiting times!
Going on aesthetics the hospital looks amazing. Both inside and outside. The ‘busy lizzy’ as it has been called can be seen from miles away, and looks fascinating! However being built right next to a sewer plant, the hospital sight area
smells horrific. Fortunately, the building is completely air tight and windows don’t open, so this is quickly forgotten about when inside.
Upon entering the (main) building it certainly doesn’t feel like a hospital. It feels much more like an airport, or shopping centre. It has a Marks and Spencer’s food store, and W.H Smiths situated to the left and right of the entrance. Which is always handy, and means if lunch or dinner of an inpatient isn’t very appealing there are other options available.
However, these shops have decided not to sell ‘full fat’ sugar drinks, in order to encourage ‘healthy eating’. Unfortunately this penalises anyone (like me) that may have special dietary requirements. It can be a struggle to keep my weight up while in hospital whilst being on a cocktail of medicine, which can practically eradicate my taste buds and minimise my appetite. (Hospital food isn’t exactly my favourite either). One of the easiest ways to keep my weight up is by drinking high energy and sugary drinks. Unfortunately the health of all patients hasn’t been taken into account.
Continuing into the hospital in front of you there is an escalator going up to a tea room, and a reception desk. It is all very opening planned and airy. As soon as you walk in a bit, you are in the big open planned atrium. (Which does slightly make me wonder why there were not more rooms build in this open planned area, but creates a nice feel to the place, nonetheless.)
Even many of the waiting areas are built in an open planned way, being situated just off the main hall, simply in little pockets of the room, with no doors separating them. In comparison to Gartnavel Hospital it is a significant improvement. The place seems much less dire and there are windows in every examination room, something which Gartnavel was lacking! (Sometimes I was sitting in what was essentially a box the whole day in that hospital!)
The wards are lovely and spacious too, with every patient having their own, temperature controlled room. This provides everyone with privacy, however may be a drawback for those patients who have no family to visit and are left lonely instead of having the hussle and bussle of being in a ward layout (which some people actually enjoy). The rooms are also very spacious, giving disabled access in every one, which of course is beneficial in a hospital.
The food is certainly something that hasn’t improved much. In fact, to be perfectly honest I thought it was even slightly worse. While I was an inpatient, the food orders were no longer taken by nurses, but by catering staff instead. This frees valuable time for nurses to be doing more important roles. However the catering staffs are completely unaware of dietary requirements. In Gartnavel there was special menu available for Cystic Fibrosis patients. In the new hospital this was not the case, which for the CF community is a major setback. (Though dieticians said they were looking to get this sorted, and this may have improved by now).
Once these issues are sorted the hospital is sure to be a significant improvement, certainly for the CF Unit, and I can imagine many other units which moved there. However there is one more, pretty major drawback which hasn’t been thought through. There is not always a Cystic Fibrosis Doctor on site any more despite the fact that this is the West of Scotland Cystic Fibrosis Unit. Hopefully this problem has already been addressed as I write this blog.The cystic fibrosis doctors are still expected to attend respiratory clinics in other hospital. However, before there was always at least one doctor at the CF unit. Now this is no longer the case. This is a major disappointment. And to be blatantly honest, I’ve never met a non-CF doctors who knows exactly what to do with me .
In addition to this all offices are now located in another building from that of the actual hospital. Meaning in the event of an emergency, medical staff are now expected to run from different buildings, not just corridors. Which from my perspective certainly isn’t practical for a hospital. It also means trying to reach the CF sisters can be very difficult, as I will be phoning their phone, which no one is near as they are all attending clinics and ward rounds in the central hospital building while I am ringing a phone in completely another building. Whereas before their office was just along the corridor, so it was a central access.