We want to be the most user-focused’ organisation in the NHS – so getting maximum involvement and input to the redevelopment of our hospitals is essential.

We want to be the most user-focused’ organisation in the NHS – so getting maximum involvement and input to the redevelopment of our hospitals is essential.

We want to grow our understanding of what we need to offer to all of the different people who help provide or use health and care services in our area – staff, patients, carers, visitors, other health and care partners, local residents and workers, schools, community groups and many others.

In July 2020, we started a new and more inclusive conversation with staff, patients, and local community groups about what they want from a hospital for the future, starting with St Mary’s as the site most in need of redevelopment, to help guide our redevelopment work.

We worked with Kaleidoscope Health and Care and the Nuffield Trust to run a programme of user insight research which included a survey, online workshops, community outreach and interviews. We are pleased that 362 people took part in one or more activities, including many staff – thank you for your time and thoughtful input.

You can read an interesting blog by Rich Taunt from our research partner, Kaleidoscope Health and Care, published by BMJ Leader.

What made the research different, and took the conversation beyond the buildings themselves, was its focus on our Trust values. The research questions were set by a steering group of staff, lay partners, and community representatives, so the whole process was user-led from the start. The workshops also brought mixed groups of staff and patients together, which made for some surprising and rich conversations.

You can read the full report and appendices - it is not meant to be definitive - rather it is the start of a wider involvement process that will continue over several years and inform all aspects of our work. We learned from doing this initial research that we need to do more in the next stages to increase the diversity of participants – there are gaps in who we listened to including BAME communities, those with disabilities, patients with long-term conditions, LGBTQ+ communities, and children and young people. We also need to go to our audiences and use the communication channels and formats that work for them. And we need to give people more time, use more accessible language, ask meaningful questions on aspects of the redevelopment that can be influenced, and build relationships over time by constantly feeding back.

A summary of findings around our values included:

Kind:

For many, a kind hospital meant a considerate environment which meets different needs and confers dignity and respect on all people using the building (patients, staff, visitors, etc.).

Clear signage, accessible layout, and intuitive wayfinding are particularly important for reducing stress and improving the overall experience for patients.

Bespoke design and welcoming ‘hospitality’ are important for helping people feel respected. As are calm and quiet environments, and private spaces for confidential and distressing conversations, or simply for enjoying the company of visitors.

There was a common belief that ‘happy staff equals happy patients’. The concept of dedicated staff spaces and facilities was seen as vital for supporting well-being and ability to do their jobs.

Expert:

A high-quality, modern hospital environment is synonymous with high quality, expert care, and safety.

Top features in a safe and professional environment are cleanliness, modern equipment, clear signage, and visible staff in waiting and treatment areas. As one respondent so brilliantly put it “If you are in a clean and modern environment, psychologically you feel like you are in a good hospital and that they will take care of me well.”

Future-proofing the design was emphasised, including continuing with innovations introduced during Covid-19.

Layout and co-location to improve patient and staff flow was a recurring theme, with the emphasis on care coming to the patient.

Collaborative:

Ideas for serving the local community included signage and navigation reflective of local languages and physical accessibility to meet complex needs.

There was also a view that creating shared spaces, accessible by the community, would build relationships and trust. A landscape garden was the most popular shared space, cited by 57 per cent of survey respondents.

Provide access to facilities and education was considered important for improving community health.

Art and installations which reflect the diversity of local communities would bring the community into the Trust.

Protected staff space and flexible meeting space were top two priorities for collaboration within staff groups.

Aspirational:

The top three features that contribute to a positive hospital experience were a welcoming reception, easy access to facilities, and ventilation and temperature control.

The priority list for change included: safe pedestrian access and a transport strategy; embedding digital services into the design; and calm communal spaces for visitors, carers, friends and family.

Maintaining a balance of heritage buildings could give a sense of identity to the redevelopment and celebrate St Mary’s history of innovation and discovery.

There are also priorities such as digital innovation, playing a pivotal role as a hub in the integrated care system, and sustainability that, while touched on in this research, need to be explored in more depth as the redevelopment involvement programme takes shape.

There will be many more ways to get involved as plans progress. There will of course also be formal public consultation as part of the planning process. 

If you would like to stay up to date with our redevelopment plans and opportunities to get involved, please email: imperial.involvement@nhs.net

For more information about the redevelopment project, please take a look at the following pages: