LENGTHY waits in the Emergency Department (ED) at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro were the most common concern reported in a feedback survey published on Monday by Healthwatch Cornwall.

Other concerns related to confidentiality in the reception area; lack of access to food and drink, and facilities like books, magazines and TV during extended waits; parking; inadequate signage and cleanliness; and the suitability and accessibility of information provided by referral services and on site.

Positive comments related to the standard of staff care, treatment and service.

The two-day survey was conducted from 8am to 6pm on a weekday and from 6pm to 11pm on Saturdays in September and October last year, with the participation of 92 people.

Key findings revealed that 87 per cent had sought prior advice before travelling to the ED, while the rest had self-referred. One-fifth were there on the advice of NHS 111, while 15 per cent had been advised to come by their GP and 15 per cent had called 999.

Three-quarters had arrived by private transport, 23 per cent were on an NHS waiting list and one third had used the ED in the last six months.

Respondents were also asked about their financial situation, what could be improved about their ED experience, and whether they would have gone to a minor injuries unit (MIU) rather than the ED if one was available in Truro.

Healthwatch Cornwall’s recommendations include managing people’s expectations about what will happen when they arrive at ED, by keeping all services up to date with information about protocols such as ward admission and further triage; and improving communication between agencies so patients aren’t left waiting without access to assessment or treatment.

Healthwatch Cornwall CEO Debbie Gilbert said a key aim of the survey was to determine whether people were seeking out advice from other services prior to arrival at ED.

“It is seven years since our previous ED report, and the demands on our health and care system are even more apparent,” she added.

Debbie Richards, chief executive at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, added that the report findings “will help inform how we promote our 10 minor injury units, which are an important part of the urgent care offer across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly”.

Kim O’Keeffe, chief nursing officer for Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, said: “It is heartening for our staff - who are working tirelessly to do their very best, often in challenging circumstances - to see so many patients were satisfied with the care they received and felt they were treated with compassion.”

Healthwatch Cornwall is one of 150 organisations in England using feedback to highlight local health and social care challenges and help improve local services.