Skip to content

Changed waiting rooms

When I first started going to Worcester to get my bag changed, the chemotherapy patients had their own waiting room deep inside the suite that treats both haematology and chemotherapy patients. The two groups of patients both checked in with a single receptionist, and then the haematology patients waited in the main waiting room, whose chairs were arranged in widely spaced rows facing each other — so people could chat if they wanted to. There was a television in the corner of the room, to entertain those who didn’t want to read or chat.

The chemotherapy patients’ waiting room was quite a bit smaller, and its walls were lined with chairs, leaving a gap in the middle for a table that usually held a basket full of biscuits, and some more magazines. The atmosphere tended most weeks to be very convivial. We would all ask each other how we were getting on, receiving congratulations or sympathy dependent on our answers. In the corner was a kettle, and tea- and coffee-making facilities. For something that had the prospect of being so grim as receiving chemotherapy, it was really quite a happy place.

Two weeks ago, that all changed. In an effort to increase the size of the treatment area, our waiting room was converted into a haematology treatment room, all the chairs were moved from our waiting room into the main one, and in order to squeeze them all in, the chairs were rearranged into tightly spaced rows, all facing the receptionist, as though she were on a stage. In fact, that was exactly how she felt about it, and has since lowered her chair so that she doesn’t feel stared at by all the waiting patients. I do feel sorry for her.

But most of all, I feel sorry for all the patients. Being in rows, all facing the same way has removed all sense of conviviality. It’s really hard for people to talk to each other, and if you feel the need to get up and wander around, perhaps to ease an aching back, it’s now a lot more difficult. It seems such a shame to have thrown away all the benefits that the old arrangement had. I can see that there are clinical and financial benefits in having a larger treatment area, but all the same, it’s really tough on those of us who have lost out. And I include the haematology patients in that group too.

Although our National Health Service gives us medical care that is free at the point of use, and I am extremely impressed with the medical staff both their behaviour and their attitude, there can come the occasional time when resource limitations really bite. This is definitely one of those times.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. sue hawkins | 22 May 2010 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    Hi Christopher!

    Nice to hear you sounding up again, but how awful for your waiting area! I have a very good friend with MS, and she has to go to a large neurology practice that just had their waiting area re-done. Now she can’t reach the front desk, the lighting is insufficient for her eyesight – all kinds of things like that – not to mention the “feel” of the place. She is a former space planner and it really bugs her. I’ve talked with her a lot about how important the feel of a place is, but it’s really critical for a health care situation!

    Those meanies! I wonder if that room is ever really full…

    Anyway, Just thought I’d check in and see how you and Gillian are doing. I’ve had a fun dinner with Stephanie another time since I “commented” last.

    Cheers, —sue h

  2. icyjumbo | 22 May 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Sue. It’s nice to feel more up again, too.

    You’re right, they are meanies. But the waiting room has been full both times I’ve been there in its new configuration, so there is obviously a need for the space. And the new treatment room was fully used too.

    Next time you see Stephanie, please give her my love. She is a fun dinner companion, isn’t she? We never run short of things to talk about when she eats with us. David’s the same too. I don’t know where they get it from. We’re silent by comparison 🙂