In an attempt stop hospital employees being subjected to verbal and physical abuse by angry and restless patients, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is planning on redesigning its Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments.
Working in conjunction with graphic designers from the Design Council, the NHS wants the layout of A&E waiting rooms to help people understand why they might have to wait to be seen by a doctor.
After a year-long research project, the designers, along with physiologists, came up with a number of simple and cost effective solutions they believe will help to ease patient frustration.
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One of the main ideas put forward was the installation of live update signs, detailing how many patients were waiting and the types of cases that were being dealt with.
Other suggestions included a series of maps and signs explaining the different stages of treatment in A&E departments, as well as new decor, lighting and seating facilities to improve the ambience of the area.
How patients are greeted in Accident and Emergency facilities should also be reviewed, the research team said.
Three chosen hospitals in the UK – St Thomas’ in London, the Royal Hospital in Chesterfield and Southampton’s University Hospital – will now trial a redesign which follows the advice and suggestions made.
This news follows the release of figures last week which revealed cases of physical and verbal abuse toward hospital staff during 2010-11 had increased from previous years.
Commenting on the move, the UK’s Health Minister, Simon Burns, said: “Despite an increase in the sanctions taken against people who assault NHS staff, more needs to be done - and we are taking action.
“These are practical solutions - and are ways in which hospitals can easily redesign the environment according to their budget.
“Difficult situations can be diffused by simply giving patients more information.”
Meanwhile, the Head of the Design Council, David Kester, added: “This is design at its best - solving a long-standing, high-cost problem through creativity, simplicity and collaboration.
“For not much more than £60,000 hospitals can now quickly and easily install this system which could significantly reduce the burden of aggression from patients.”
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