Monday, 29 April 2013

Architectural blunder

Last week I accompanied my mother to her local hospital for a pre-op assessment (she's having a second cataract done - it's nothing serious.)

The building we went to was new and externally had a sort of 60s-retro style.  Lovely big glass automatic opening doors into a small lobby then another set of big glass automatic doors.  We entered what was in effect an atrium, the space reaching up another two, or was it three, storeys. Nice comfortable chairs were provided, a real coffee maker, snacks and even new computerised login system which I made my mother use, on the basis that it was educational for her to do so.

We sat in this enormous space - in fact I sat in it for an hour and a half.  What is it with the NHS?  What is it that they don't understand about time-keeping?  When she eventually reappeared I said, "did they apologise for keeping you waiting?"  "Goodness no," was her reply.  Even to my mother the concept of an apology for delay would have been extraordinary.
But it's common courtesy to apologise isn't it?  And maybe, just maybe, the outcomes from the public who so commonly don't turn up for appointments that multiple appointments are booked at the same time, might be improved if staff said: sorry.  Just think, it could result in a whole culture change. 

"I'm terribly sorry Mrs G that we have kept you waiting for 40 minutes and such is the process we have here, we're afraid you're going to be sitting around in various other waiting rooms for probably another hour." What would it cost?  I'm sure a time and motion guru somewhere could put a price on 39 words. It wouldn't be much. 

Would that not improve things so much? Would it not make one feel warm and cuddly towards the much put-upon and underpaid staff?  Would one not feel much more disposed to make their life easier, better, happier. Would one not smile in gratitude and appreciation.  Could this be the one thing which revolutionises the NHS - remember that butterfly flapping its wings in the jungle somewhere.

However that's not actually the purpose of this post.  That's just a rant. The purpose is to tell you what happened when more than one person - or when one person walked quickly - through the double doors and lobby.  The cold wind came in.  But there was worse to come. What happened when the similar arrangement at the other end of this some 50-yard-long corridor, where there was a similar automatic door system, was that an enormous gust of wind travelled the entire length of the atrium, knocking out what heat there might have been and creating an enormous draught

I remarked upon this when I drove my mother home.  She told me that it had been even colder there during deepest winter and on one visit she'd remarked to the ladies on reception how cold they must be.  Apparently they each had an electric heater at their feet! That, dear readers, is just one of the holes into which our desperately-needed NHS money is pouring.

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