Comment: Hospital complaint may prove to be the first of many

Watford Observer: Hospital complaint may prove to be the first of many Hospital complaint may prove to be the first of many

Anyone with the wherewithal to set up a Twitter or Facebook account has the capacity to broadcast their views. This makes the individual a far more powerful figure than previously.

Conversely, it also means large institutions are somewhat diminished. Whether it is Starbucks or the NHS, if someone has a poor experience at the hands of a large public or private entity, they are unlikely to remain quiet.

In days of yore, someone with a grievance would just moan to their friends or maybe make an internal complaint.

Now social media gives them a potentially powerful platform from which to share their frustrations.

So when new father Luigi Barbieri was appalled by the state of the room his wife was left in at Watford General Hospital, he vented his anger on Twitter accompanied with pictures of the ward.

The result was a fulsome apology from a senior member of staff at the trust along with assurances that the maternity unit was due a multi-million pound refurb. You wonder if Mr Barbieri would have received such immediate and undivided attention from the trust’s hierarchy had he just quietly made a complaint via the internal channels.

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust is well aware of the way social media has altered the reputation management game.

And in response, it has beefed up its own social media strategy. When its comms team spot people airing their poor experiences online, they are quick to respond to try to get to the bottom of the issue.

These days, the trust is also wont to publicise any good reviews it gets via social media. In this respect the health trust is far ahead of many other public institutions who have not quite realised they are not as in command of their public image as they once were.

Yet there is one issue no amount of positive tweets can mask: the hospital needs to be completely rebuilt.

And the fact that the people of south west Hertfordshire have been left with such decrepit health infrastructure for so long is an serious indictment of the NHS and its political masters.

With still no firm plans to rectify the situation in place - and even less detail about how to fund this gargantuan project - I suspect this will not be the last time we see social media used to vent dismay at the state of Watford General.

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill has still not made up her mind on whether to run for MP next year.

It’s hard to tell at this point if the mayor is genuinely agonising over the dilemma or has made up her mind but is waiting for a more auspicious time in which to unveil her decision.

Meanwhile she is wasting the political capital she gained from her sizeable re-election win last month.

Straight after her victory she described her re-election as a "vindication" of the difficult decisions she made during her third term in office.

Well, those difficult issues in the town (including the aforementioned hospital problem) are still just as real as they were on May 22.

Usually, the time just after an election victory is ripe for a politician with a fresh mandate to make progress.

But Dorothy appears to be frittering this key period away with her Westminster indecision.

Comments (1)

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2:29pm Wed 18 Jun 14

inside-watford says...

I don't think it is a bad thing that people report such incidents using social media. If it means the problem is rectified sooner or investigated then it can only be a good thing.

Whilst generally only bad cases are ranted about I have seem numerous positive tweets about the maternity unit.

The odd tweet message is a lot quicker than writing a formal letters which generally do not get responded to.

It's been three years since we used the maternity unit and at that time I found it clean and the staff very professional.
I don't think it is a bad thing that people report such incidents using social media. If it means the problem is rectified sooner or investigated then it can only be a good thing. Whilst generally only bad cases are ranted about I have seem numerous positive tweets about the maternity unit. The odd tweet message is a lot quicker than writing a formal letters which generally do not get responded to. It's been three years since we used the maternity unit and at that time I found it clean and the staff very professional. inside-watford
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