Hospital contrast

PUBLISHED: 10:51 29 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

SIR – I have been reading the Hospital Tragedy letters in your newspaper. I wonder how much can be blamed on poor facilities. Earlier this year my wife was taken ill in Cornwall and rushed into the Royal Cornwall hospital, Trelisk, Truro. She received e

SIR - I have been reading the "Hospital Tragedy" letters in your newspaper. I wonder how much can be blamed on poor facilities.

Earlier this year my wife was taken ill in Cornwall and rushed into the Royal Cornwall hospital, Trelisk, Truro. She received excellent treatment. During the week she was there, I spent much time in and around this hospital. I reflected on its qualities and could not help comparing it with our situation in Hertfordshire.

This is a 700-bed teaching hospital: its cleanliness, efficiency and patient care were of high order. The food was very appetising. It is not an old hospital - probably '70s with later additions.

Because it is a teaching hospital, on the care side, my wife's case was able to be addressed by a number of doctors with different specialties. They came to a conclusion that might have been missed in many visits and examinations in Herts hospitals.

The hospital was situated in very pleasant grounds, has two coffee bars and a good quality restaurant, open all day until 8pm, and a large WH Smiths. Also a park and ride facility nearby enabled lower parking charges: a significant point for those involved in frequent and lengthy visits.

These amenities are invaluable if the visitor is there for any length of time.

Hertfordshire has a population of 1,033,977 and Cornwall has a population of 519, 400, roughly half our size (Trelisk is not their only hospital, of course) .

So why do we not have hospitals of this quality? Why not a splendid, well designed and well equipped modern hospital enriched by being a teaching hospital?

We were once told that we were having such a new hospital linked with a medical school linked to the University of Hertfordshire: do I not remember Kerry Pollard proudly announcing such a facility on the site of the former Hatfield aerodrome? What happened to this plan?

Instead we have various smaller scale hospitals with ageing facilities, on sites that are unpleasant to visit and in one case difficult to find! The landscaping, car parking and surroundings are quite depressing.

The impact of good design can have positive effects. Research by Nottingham University on the post-therapeutic environment found that well designed wards were viewed as relaxed and comfortable, resulted in lower pulse rates and mean arterial blood pressures, shortened post-operative stays from 11 to eight days and lowered drug intake.

On staff recruitment and retention, a Chelsea and Westminster Hospital study found that over 50 per cent of medical staff cite the quality of their working environment as a very important factor in why they chose to work there and also why they chose to stay.

So, coming back to the criticisms of care, surely modern, well-designed facilities would raise the morale of patients, improve the ability of staff to do a better job, improve cleanliness and lower the risk of infection.

GERAINT JOHN

Fishpool Street, St Albans

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