Yesterday I went to visit my daughter in the Maternity Unit at St Marys Hospital in Manchester. On arriving at the main entrance to the hospital (vaguely similar to the one above) I entered and saw a large reception desk just to the right of the entrance. Hung on the wall was a large sign that said Reception Desk so I approached the desk but could find no staff. The desk was also empty of any papers or indeed a phone, so I was a little bemused by this. I then heard a member of staff in what appeared to be a stock room at the side of the desk, so I asked “Is there a member of staff that I could speak to on the reception desk?”
His response then astounded me, “we don’t have any staff on this reception and it hasn’t been staffed for a very long time.” I responded by saying “so why is there a large sign still above the desk saying reception?” he shrugged his shoulders and indicated I should go and try to find someone inside the hospital to help me ( no attempt on his part to say “tell me what help you need and I will try to answer your query of find someone who can”…….don’t they provide customer service training at this hospital?).
I took his advice and went to a reception desk for one of the outpatients clinics further inside the building. I asked the young man on reception why the reception desk at the entrance was not staffed, to which he responded “we occasionally have volunteers there but we don’t have any staff on duty”. “So why is there still a large sign above the desk saying Reception?” I asked.
He said he didn’t know. He was then able to point me in the direction of the Maternity Unit so that I could see my daughter who was awaiting the birth of her second child.
I find it staggering that a large NHS Hospital cannot get the simplest of things right in terms of providing information to patients and visitors at a Reception Desk, that is still signposted as such, but virtually never staffed, except by the odd “volunteer.’
No doubt the Trust has policies on patient focus and customer service, just a pity that they can’t get some of the absolute basics right. Either staff the reception point or TAKE THE BLOODY SIGN DOWN!
Oh, and when you do your next training needs analysis for the trust, perhaps someone could put “meeting (and exceeding) customer service” at the top of the lis!