THE staff at Hereford County Hospital’s outpatient clinics are great but conditions are cramped and people are a little wary of the automated ‘sign-in’ system.

Those are some of the findings from a survey carried out by the Healthwatch Herefordshire watchdog.

In general patients were reasonably happy with the waiting times at the clinics, but one in five who arrived at a clinic through the A&E department had waited more than five hours.

Healthwatch spoke to 165 patients over 11 days in March.

Clinics visited were: ophthalmology; ear nose and throat; fracture and radiology; urology and rheumatology.

In all clinics patients rated staff highly and gave positive feedback. They listened and communicated well, made people feel safe and secure, and provided privacy.

But there were concerns that the clinics were cramped and needed improvements.

Complaints ranged from out of date notice boards, uncomfortable seating set too close together, not enough seating and not child friendly. There was a particular point made about cramped conditions in the fracture clinic, where people often have crutches to deal with.

Large numbers of patients were unconvinced of the benefits of an automatic ‘sign in’ system for their appointments.

There was a particular worry about people with sight problems, but many also pointed out that their experience of it in GP surgeries was that it very often was not working.

Most people thought the length of time they had waited for an appointment was reasonable, but one recommendation from Healthwatch is to make more use of online bookings, while the hospital is considering Skype appointments.

Of 22 patients who arrived via A&E, almost thirty per cent had a negative view of that department. Complaints included issues over privacy, seating, communication, and speed of service, including time taken to dispense stronger pain killers.

In its formal response the hospital says the feedback is useful to guide it while it considers improvements to the condition of the clinics.

It is committed to the automated sign in to improve ‘flows’ but will take on board patients concerns.

The full report is available at