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ITEM: 4 page press insert
CLIENT: Spire Murrayfield private hospital
OVERVIEW: Rebranding campaign to inform the public of the many changes at the hospital
Rob Jackson goes back to see how things have changed at Spire Murrayfield hospital
They say seeing is believing. Indeed it is. They also say promises are promises. And so they are.
You may recall that last spring I went along to Spire Murrayfield hospital to report back on all the improvements in the pipeline, courtesy of a massive £3.5 million investment.
Now, some seven months on, those improvements are largely in place. Time for me to make a return trip and see if the 'new' Spire Murrayfield is as good as its word.
Or, more specifically, if dynamic Hospital Director Alison da Silva is as good as her word! Last time Alison treated me to an extensive tour of the hospital, detailing all the many upgrades, refurbishments and completely new facilities that patients could look forward to.
Well, now I was about to discover whether she can deliver!
First impressions are lasting impressions. So it was auspicious that as I entered the building my gaze was greeted by a sparkling new reception area. So far, so good.
For some context, we need to rewind to April. The reception I encountered then was adequate, no more. In truth, it seemed small, cluttered, and generally underwhelming. Worse, the queues of new patients built up in no time at all.
And now? What a difference! Space, space and more space. Lots of comfortable chairs and tables, strategically located so patients can enjoy some privacy with family and friends over a coffee. Everywhere freshly decorated, with new furniture supplied by Joe Pinnington of Heswall.
Altogether, the refurbished reception area is now so much more roomy, relaxing and welcoming. And one can't overstate what a benefit this is. Let's face it, before visiting a hospital for treatment most of us feel a few trepidations. The right welcome can do much to put your mind at rest. It's all part of Murrayfield's new focus on patient care.
The change is in function as well as form. All that old clutter has gone and it's now streamlined and efficient. Queuing has been minimalised. Smartly-dressed support staff now reside behind the front desk, in a more efficient open plan layout, and are ready to step into the breach at a moment's notice.
The feedback is positive
Without more ado, I was ushered into Alison da Silva's new office. Again, all change! The old cluttered room had gone, to be replaced by an altogether lighter, airier version. The real point, though, is that the Director's office is central, not hidden away like before. No accident, this. Murrayfield managers are very hands-on, and believe in putting themselves right in the front line. From her strategic vantage point, Alison can see all the comings and goings in her domain - patients, staff and consultants alike.
Enough of the office. What about its occupant? On cue, Alison made her entrance. And, as ever, enthusiasm emanated from every pore. I know it's not in the best taste here to use the word infectious, but rarely has it been so appropriate! We sipped a quick coffee while she recapped on where Murrayfield had been before, and then, somewhat more expansively, on all that had been done since the spring. I was there a while!
As luck would have it, that very morning the Murrayfield hospital had received some very important news. The Spire Group as a whole set great store on feedback, and commission a comprehensive annual survey amongst three key audiences - patients, consultants and staff. The good news was that in all three areas there had been significant improvement, with the consultants' survey showing a remarkable 16% increase in approval.
My subsequent tour of the hospital explained why these results were so good.
A 3 year mission
For most patients, accommodation is very high on their list of boxes to be ticked. Good reason to start with the bedrooms, which are much improved. Out with the old carpets and curtains, and in with smart, modern and altogether more hygienic vinyl and blinds. Flat screen TV's add to the cutting edge feel. What's more, a dose of your favourite telly programme may do much to help you feel more at home.
Next, it was down to the nitty gritty. 'Sterile Services' may not sound like the most fascinating aspect of healthcare, but they are critical to good healthcare practice. What's more, a significant portion of that £3.5 million investment has been spent here to ensure that Murrayfield now has the best facilities of any Spire hospital in the region. Unlike many competitors, Murrayfield is now CE marked, and boasts all relevant accreditations. And what exactly does it all mean to patients, I ventured? 'Better, faster, safer patient care' came the immediate response from Alison. Pretty emphatic, I thought.
As we walked round the quiet, peaceful corridors, complete with calm-inducing paintings on the walls, the inspirational Hospital Director expanded on her philosophy with the aid of an appropriate analogy:
'Essentially, the hospital's recovery has been a 3 year mission.'
So what was Year One all about? Staff engagement! Alison takes the view that the hospital's staff are key to the entire process. Happy staff are efficient, productive staff, and the fast track to better care for patients. Therefore, getting them onside with a better environment and working conditions was a priority.
Also important, staff are listened to at Murrayfield. Their views count. For example, when it was mooted to replace carpets in the corridors with vinyl, the housekeeper highlighted the potential skid hazard, and the carpets stayed. Interesting.
Moving on, Year Two of the plan was all about creating better facilities for patients, many of which I could see first-hand as I walked around. And Year Three? Well, we're not there yet! Next year will be when it's time to deliver in business terms. As any institution must do these days, private or public sector.
'We set out to create the 'WOW Factor - in everything we did.'
So none of the normal stuff about 'meeting customer expectations' then! At Murrayfield they're clearly out to exceed them - and by some margin. And quite right too. After all, when you're paying good money for any service you're not looking for mediocrity. When it's your health involved doubly so.
First names please
As we continue our progress around the hospital, inevitably we encountered staff at all levels from consultants to cleaners. I couldn't help noticing that not only does the Hospital Director know everybody by their first name, they greet her as 'Alison' too. No 'Mrs Da Silva', 'Director' or whatever! All part of the 'satisfied staff' culture.
The patients seemed to be pretty satisfied, too. In fact, despite the inevitable disruption caused by the building work that had been going on, the hospital had not received a single complaint.
Back to our tour, which took in more new facilities. An improved booking area, complete with smart, enthusiastic personnel to take your call. A new outpatient's area, now thoughtfully located much nearer the main reception for easy access. Ditto the pre-op assessment co-ordinator, who has the key role of making sure patients are fit enough to undergo an operation. There are also new consulting rooms for outpatients, a far more numerous breed these days thanks to trends in modern medicine.
Of particular interest to me was the superbly equipped gymnasium, staffed by ex-pro sportsmen such as Chris Malken of Tranmere Rovers and Gary Powell who formerly turned out for the mighty Everton. Encountering personal trainers of this quality can be a life changing experience for patients, promoting an exercise regime that could be of benefit long after their treatment had run its course.
Open for business 24.7
The newly installed MRI scanner merits special mention. With 365 day, 24.7 access, it replaces a former mobile facility and is a major step forward in patient care. There's now loads of room in the facility, allowing mums to sit with their children. The scanner itself resembles a giant polo mint, with a wider, shorter tube meaning any claustrophobic sensations are minimised. Reduced noise levels remove the need for ear protection, and patients can even listen to music. What's more, the state-of-the-art imaging unit allows patients to see their joints on screen with much greater clarity.
On to the new de-contamination unit, which may sound a tad ominous but, again, represents another significant advance in patient care. Functioning like a super-powered dishwasher, it means better protection and reduced risk for patients and staff alike, not to mention fewer delays in theatre. While I examined the 2 brand new autoclaves, Alison explained how seriously they took staff training in all new equipment, and indicated the certification on the walls. In truth, any technology is only as useful as the people who use it.
Last but by no means least, we took a look at the staff changing areas - after waiting for the premises to be vacated first, of course! Again, the ugly duckling has become a swan! Individual lockers for all staff, luxury showers, oodles of space - this is 5 star accommodation! As Alison never tires of saying, 'happy staff mean efficient staff' and everybody should be happy with facilities like this.
Altogether, as I took my leave from Spire Murrayfield my feelings could be summed up in the words 'job done'. Last April they said that 'Things were changing at Murrayfield.' Eight months on, they certainly have done.
I'm pleased to report that the 'Wow Factor' is in plentiful supply at Murrayfield these days!