Exciting, new, fresh, and modern are words which are not often used to describe NHS Hospitals. But these are the words used by Endoscopy Suite Manager, Lorraine Dyson, to describe Harrogate District NHS Foundation Trust’s new Endoscopy Department.
After nearly a year of construction, the purpose-built facility is now open and operating, and endoscopy has become the talk of the Trust.
Walking into the reception area, it becomes clear why; sleek dark wood and smart metal lettering dawns the crisp white walls while flat screen televisions entertain patients waiting to be seen.
But this relaxing yet professional atmosphere is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Lorraine said: “This is the future of what hospitals look like, at least for the next few years until things change again.
“But this is modern, efficient, clean. As you come in through the front waiting area you see it’s all wood, calm-looking, muted colours. We all have a little joke about it, but actually we’re quite serious that it’s a bit like a spa environment when you first come in.
“It’s meant to feel calm and soothing, the air is cool and crisp because we have air conditioning, you can take your mind off things by reading or watching telly, there’s radio, there’s lots of things for patients to take their minds off what they’re going to have done, they’re going to have a procedure and lots of them are very worried about it.”
Since moving into the new facility some eight weeks ago, the department staff have slowly built up the number of patients they see, from one short screening list.
But many of these patients have been previously treated in the old Endoscopy Suite and their comments about the new facility stand testament to the transformation that has taken place.
Lorraine said: “We have patients who come quite frequently, who are used to what we had downstairs who have come here and they just can’t get over it, they are blown away by how wonderful it really is. To get that feedback is amazing, for us to feel that is one thing but what we really want is for the patients to feel it.”
But the staff certainly feel it too.
Acting Sister, Sarah McHugh has worked in endoscopy in Harrogate for the last three years.
She said: “It just feels like a more professional environment, I feel like the standard of care we are delivering is meeting the expectations of the public.
“They are all impressed with the unit when they come in and make comments about it. It just makes us even more proud of the care we are delivering.”
Lorraine added: “We’ve had so many people from around the Trust come and have a look because they’re excited for us, they saw where we were working beforehand.”
As well as the modern and slick new waiting area, the £7 million investment has increased the number of treatment rooms from two to five.
The new facility also has spacious and modern recovery bays, dedicated patient changing rooms, private consultation areas and a staff room - something endoscopy never had.
Traditionally, endoscopy has always been a diagnostic procedure where an endoscope - a tube with a small camera - is used to look inside the body. But today, Lorraine explains the demand for the service is growing, and the workload has vastly increased from the basic endoscopy procedure.
The new and much bigger facility has allowed the team to move a lot of weekend work into weekday shifts, as well as offer weekend clinics and other screening programmes such as bowel scopes.
The new department is already seeing up to 300 patients every week, meeting the NHS expectation that all patients should be seen within a fortnight.
Lorraine added: “You can hear how busy it is, we’re only eight weeks in and it’s as if we’ve never worked anywhere else, staff are in their new work environment using every part of it.”