"Excellent clinical staff but administrative processes need improvement"

About: Perth Children's Hospital

(as a parent/guardian),

My child recently had surgery at PCH (Perth Children’s Hospital). They were unwell afterwards and needed to stay several extra days. I’m a doctor myself and have worked in public hospitals for over 20 years. 

I’ve been incredibly impressed by the PCH staff. Every nurse has been fantastic, attentive and helpful. They’ve always had the time to stop, talk and help. This is a reflection of good staff levels, morale and training. The doctors, ward clerks, cleaners and other ward staff have also been fantastic. 

The building and facilities are absolutely amazing! This stay was stressful from a medical perspective but tolerable due to the great facilities. 

My only point for improvement is the pre-op organization and communication. There is a surprising lack of timely communication with patients. We had to repeatedly ring up to find out our surgical date, admission time etc. For example we rang 3 1/2 weeks before to find out the surgery date, to be told that they will send out mail 4 weeks beforehand! Obviously that letter got to us with only 2 1/2 weeks to go. This is inadequate time to arrange our lives.

Similarly we had no admission time, or even an indication of AM or PM list. Again rang 2 days before to ask and told that they ring 2 days beforehand! When we pointed out that it was 2 days we are told that they’ll ring later in the day. I believe that these lists are planned weeks in advance and this information is easily available much earlier. 

In conclusion, the building and clinical staff are incredible. Best I’ve met yet!

The administration section needs to improve. I believe private hospitals do a much better job with fewer staff, so I feel this is an indication of poor training, processes and coordination. 

Responses

Response from Victor Cheng, Executive Director, Health Service Managament

picture of Victor Cheng

Dear PerthParent,

Thank you for sharing your experience and for your kind comments about our staff and building. I’m sorry about the administrative side of things that were unhelpful and counter-intuitive. I can advise that our standard process is to call patients as soon as their surgery date is tentatively scheduled, and to send a confirmation letter by mail four weeks in advance. If requested at the initial phone call, we can also email the confirmation letter. The timeframes may differ by specialty, but we absolutely endeavour to ensure our patients and families receive adequate notice of their appointments and surgery dates. The pre-anaesthetic nurse will then call two days prior to surgery to advise of the required fasting time and provide an admitting time. Evidently, you did not have a positive experience in this regard and I apologise that you had to follow up for information that you should have received sooner. I have passed your feedback on to the team to reflect on the importance of timely and proactive communication with all our patients and families.

I sincerely hope any future interactions you have at PCH are more positive. Thank you again for taking the time to give feedback. Please accept my best wishes for your child.

Kind regards
Dr Victor Cheng
A/Chief Executive
Child and Adolescent Health Service

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