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Volunteers inspect local hospitals

Cleanliness, food, and privacy at West Suffolk and Newmarket hospitals have been rated and scored by a team of patient assessors to help improve patient experience.

Findings from an annual independent survey of standards of the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (WSFT) hospital sites have rated the Trust positively across a number of areas – with cleanliness being scored at a standout 99.97% at the West Suffolk and 100% at Newmarket.

The Patient-Led Assessment of the Care Environment (PLACE) is the national NHS benchmark for ensuring services are offered in a clean, safe environment.

Teams of independent local people volunteered their time to undertake the PLACE inspections at the West Suffolk Hospital and Newmarket Community Hospital earlier this year. The aim is to get the patients’ perception of every experience they have at the hospital, from arrival at the site, to the place where they are treated, to leaving.

Paul Morris, associate director of nursing at WSFT, said: “We are grateful to the volunteers who gave up their time to carry out these inspections and we welcome the findings. We constantly strive to improve the environment of our Trust and the experience that people have when they are with us.”

The volunteers scored the hospitals on a wide range of issues, including cleanliness; privacy; dignity and wellbeing; dementia; access for disabled people; general maintenance; and food, which included sampling meals. This is the first time the Newmarket site has been scored as part of WSFT.

Ian Stuchbury, WSFT estates manager, said: “The scores were good overall and show that we are maintaining our ratings, especially on cleanliness. But we scored less well on some areas – although the quality of the food was rated well, the results showed we could improve on some aspects like its warmth and presentation at the West Suffolk Hospital.

“We still scored above 90% in these areas, but we really welcome this kind of feedback as it means we can focus our efforts to improve the right things and make the experience our patients have with us even better.

“We’ve already started to act on the results. From 1 November, the West Suffolk is trialling an initiative on two wards which will see a dedicated housekeeping team serving food, ensuring patients are kept hydrated and receive their food trays more quickly.”

A rapid response team for preparing vacated bed space is also being introduced. Housekeeping staff will be contacted through the hospital’s electronic patient care record system, and they will clean the bed, bed space, remaking the bed ready for the next patient, freeing up clinical staff to concentrate on caring for their patients.

The score for the condition of the Trust’s buildings was steady at 95.25%; disability access at 84.72%; and the score for how they fared as places for people with dementia to use had risen from 78.39% last year to 82.07%. The Trust has been working with a dementia specialist nurse to make changes that make it easier for people to navigate the hospitals and clinics.

In the wake of the 2017 PLACE inspection, £12,000 of charitable funds from the Trust’s My WiSH Charity was used to improve the experience for people with dementia, by providing among other things, clocks that are easier to understand.

“Where problems or improvements are identified, we do all we can to tackle them,” added Paul. “But we’re proud that the scores show that overall we’re doing well, and this is down to the hard work and dedication of our staff.”

If you’d like to provide feedback about your experience at West Suffolk or Newmarket Hospital, please contact the WSFT patient advice and liaison service (PALS), on 01284 712555, or


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Newmarket Community Hospital - one of the hospitals rated and scored by a team of patient assessors to help improve patient experience.

Newmarket Community Hospital - one of the hospitals rated and scored by a team of patient assessors to help improve patient experience.