Hospitals Transformation Programme (HTP) Visual Impairment Focus Group – 16th May 2024.

Team responding to public questions:

Julia Clarke – (JC) Director of Public Participation

Ed Rysdale – (ER) Emergency Medicine Consultant and Clinical Lead for HTP

Gareth Banks – (GB) Architect AHR

Q&A’s Following Presentation

Q: Will there be a better transport network to get people from Shrewsbury to Telford and vice versa?

 A: (ER) – There are two aspects to transport networks – patient transport and public transport.  In terms of public transport that is outside the settings of what the NHS can provide.  In terms of patient transport, there is a working group within the Trust which is liaising with the local authorities and Arriva to see what improvements are possible to improve existing schedules.

Patient transport – At the moment if a patient turns up to Telford Hospital with abdominal pain and they need admitting, then they would be transferred between hospitals by West Midlands Ambulance Service to Shrewsbury and likewise if a patient comes to Shrewsbury with signs of a stroke etc, then they would be transferred by ambulance across to Telford. There are a lot of these unplanned patient transfers already happening each week and we want to reduce that by establishing clear clinical pathways and we are working very closely with the Integrated Care System (ICS), the local authorities, commissioners, ambulance services and primary care to make sure we get patient transport correct from the beginning of the journey.

Public transport – In terms of public transport, we are being very open with what we are doing but we have no control on what is being delivered which sits with private bus companies and the local authorities.

Q: Does the transport working group include patients who are visually impaired or any visually impaired organisations because there are different challenges for people with sight loss to go to and from hospitals, not just for eye care but for example visiting loved ones?

A: (ER) – I have been involved in a working group with the ICS which did not have patients involved. It’s been more focused on the clinical pathway and about how the ambulances will be sent across between the hospitals because at the moment discussions are still at a very early stage.

A: (JC) – There were two focus groups held in October and November and invitations were sent out to many organisations including Sight Loss Shropshire and other support groups for the visually-impaired. It became very apparent of the difficulties that people face with public transport. The estates team are now picking those issues up rather than the HTP team. At this stage they are still working with local authorities like Arriva and other providers. The intention is that they will involve  members of the public. If anybody is interested, please contact: and we will put them in touch with the estates team, but we are not at that stage yet as these changes will not be in place until 2027 at the earliest. The estates travel transport team are currently focussing on improving the parking particularly at RSH because now that there is construction activity on site that is impacting on the car parking. There are now park and ride schemes for staff to free up spaces on both sites to make parking spaces more available for patients and visitors [update subsequent to meeting: this service will be extended to members of the public in due course].

Q: Currently patients who attend the ophthalmology department can do so at both clinics at Telford and Shrewsbury sites. In the future are they only able to go to one site for the outpatients’ clinics?

 A (ER) – No, outpatients will not be affected. They will continue to be provided at both sites. (The only outpatient clinics that might change are the paediatric oncology outpatients clinics because the oncology unit is alongside the paediatric unit which is possibly changing).

Q: There is uncertainty on whether it is going to be a new building or just altering what is existing?

 A: (GB) – The only part of the building that will be reused is the emergency department. On the ground floor, the emergency department is being extended. The rest of the ground floor and the three upper floors will be brand new.

A: (ER) – The new building will include the new acute medical floor on the ground floor, Women & Children’s services on the first and second floors and the new critical care unit and oncology ward on the third floor. Nothing is being knocked down at Shrewsbury, so the current ward block will still be used, some wards will move around and theatres will still be used. It’s not an entirely new hospital but it’s a brand new 30,000m2m building, in addition to the current hospital site.

Q: Will the old building be colour zoned for people coming in (in the way the new building will be)?

 A: (JC) – This has been raised at other focus groups but unfortunately the HTP funding only provides for delivering the clinical model within the new building. However this issue has been picked up by our Head of Patient Experience, and the Trust recognises that if we are going to have this improved wayfinding approach in the new building, it really does need to be extended into the older main building. However, this is being picked up separately outside of the HTP scheme.

Q: When letters are sent out regarding outpatient appointments or even if a patient comes in for a hospital appointment to see a consultant, is there any way that can be put on the letter which zone they will need to go to?

 A: (JC) – That is something that has been mentioned at focus groups, but its outside of HTP and is being picked up by a separate team as well as linking carparks to the zones.

Comment: Something that seems to get forgotten sometimes, at the top of staircases it would be helpful for there to maybe be a slight change in the floor surface before you get right on top of the stairs and near the lift areas. It can be quite scary when you’re looking for the stairs and suddenly, you’re right on the top of them.

 A: (GB) – In new buildings with the building regulations there will be tactile markers to highlight that steps are being approached. Those warnings will be within the new building. There is also an app that you can use on a mobile phone, normally used in supermarkets to pick up a QR code to act as a guide within the building.  This is something that we would like to explore. It should be achievable but it’s not part of the HTP funding.

Comment: The focus group at the Manchester Royal Infirmary are looking at doing things like this, which would be brilliant.

A (JC) – Because we are having these conversations very early in the process, these developments could possibly be included as part of the scheme.

Comment: A good colour contrast is useful for partially sighted people when it comes to designing things like waiting rooms. Chairs need to be a different colour from the walls and floors etc.

A: (GB) – We are conscious of not trying to give everything their own individual colour because it could add up to 150 different colours as there will be 150 different departments within the building so rather, we will use colours more broadly to let people know they are in a certain area or a certain floor of the building. With the use of colours, we will make sure there is sufficient contrast between walls and floors, furniture etc. It’s very much key in developing the finishes and the colour themes etc. We were even thinking about making all the toilet doors yellow, which should make them a lot easier to identify.  This will include door frames.

Q: Is there a time frame for the build?

 A: (ER) – The plans to start the main build will be late June this year, with a plan to finish late 2027.

Q: Will the access to the blood clinic which is on the opposite side to where the eye clinic is remain the same?

 A: (ER) – Phlebotomy is likely to move again, as it’s currently at Elizabeth House which is being replaced. Communications will be circulated to inform people when the new location is confirmed.  We are trying to identify somewhere where parking will be less of an issue.

Q: Is there a possibility to building multistorey car parks?

 A: (ER) – We know car parking is very tight and will possibly become tighter as the building work carries on. The number of public parking spaces is being maintained and the park and ride is helping make a big difference. There was a plan approved for a single parking deck to go above the car park at the rear of the hospital, but the problem is financing it. All finances are going into the clinical model and making sure all clinical space is provided which is taking up all the finances. Once the building work is finished in three years’ time, the area which is being used by the contractors will be turned into car parking so there will be more parking spaces, but there is no funding for a multi-storey car park which would be many millions of pounds.

Q: There is a lack of disabled parking spaces

 A: (JC) – With the new build there will be more disabled parking spaces and more drop off spaces outside ED.

A: (ER) – In the meantime there will need to be a new temporary entrance to outpatients and there will more disabled spaces around the entrance. Communications will be circulated about this in the next few weeks. There will be temporary entrances during the building phases, there is an outpatient entrance at the treatment centre and at the ward block entrance.