Over the past twelve years I have visited scores of Orthotists in clinic rooms all over the UK to present and discuss products. It has never ceased to amaze me how the quality and functionality of these clinical spaces vary so much from one hospital to the next. Quite frankly many just don’t seem fit for purpose.
Inevitably the size of these rooms changes from one site to another, but so do the facilities. I have seen rooms with no desk, leaving the Orthotist to write notes on the windowsill. Also a clinic room with no sink, with water having to be carried between rooms. It is also not uncommon to have the Orthotist working in the same room as administrative staff, whilst they are talking on the phone and affording the patient very little or no privacy.
Often rooms are so small that the plinth is not a wide one and has to be put against a wall, meaning you can’t walk around to examine the other limb. Many times the size of these rooms dictate that the clinician is forced to use adjacent corridors or open spaces for outcomes like a 10m walk trial.
Even basics like clinics being sited on the second or third floor, so when there is an issue with the lift being out of order, it requires patients to be seen in a lobby or waiting area.
And of course some of these clinics are still referred to as Surgical Appliances……
So what would an ideal clinic room look like?
It probably needs to be 8m x 8m to allow for all the furniture, adequate seating and still space for walking and wheelchairs to move around. Ideally the room will have an adjustable plinth bed for clients, adjustable height chair, plaster sink, desk, stool with wheels for the clinician and a computer. If you are really lucky some parallel bars for walking trials with new devices, adult and paediatric height.
In an ideal world there should also be a sharps box, disinfectant wipes, alcohol gel, sink with hot water & soap, confidential waste bin, normal waste bin and clinical waste bin. A window with natural light would be great.
Now there are some really good purpose built facilities around the UK, but many of these sit outside the NHS hospital estate.
Since entering this industry I have always heard Orthotics referred to as the ‘Cinderella service’ but it seems to me, the least an Orthotist should expect is a clinic room that allows them to practice safely, efficiently and effectively.
I would be interested in other people’s experience of this issue.