Making Great Ormond Street Hospital out of this world

On Saturday 19 November 2016, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) held a space-themed listening event where patients and parents shared their ideas and experiences of the hospital. They told staff what they thought GOSH should focus on in the future to make sure GOSH is always out of this world!

If the video is not showing, please watch it on YouTube

What is a listening event?

It’s an opportunity for families to meet staff that they wouldn’t normally see and to give them feedback about GOSH.

The day was centred around discussions on four topics which were identified through social media. The key areas chosen by the children, young people, and parents were: communication, food, transition, and outpatients.

Who was there?

A range of senior members of staff attended the day, such as the Chief Executive, the Deputy Chief Executive, Medical Director and Chief Nurse.

There was also a marketplace area so families could meet a number of other teams and learn about other projects taking place at the hospital. There were representatives from the following teams: Chaplaincy, Charity, Digital, Electronic Patient Records programme, GOSH Arts, Hospital School, Patient Advice and Liaison (PALS), Redevelopment, Research, Sustainability, Volunteers and the Consultant Nurse Intellectual (Learning) Disabilities.

What actually happened on the day?

The Chief Executive opened the day and introduced the Executive Team to families.

Parents were then invited to take part in two discussions (40 minutes each), on the four topics of: communication, food, transition, and outpatients.

Young people took part in an ice breaker game and met the Chair and Vice Chair of the Young People’s Forum. They then also discussed the same topics as their parents.

Parents, patients and staff then gathered to share everyone’s views and suggestions.

So what did patients and parents say about communication, food, transition and outpatients?

Please see below for an overview of everyone’s feedback:


There were a number of families who gave staff a number of compliments on the way that staff interacted with patients, parents, their wider families and visitors. However, there were some who felt GOSH needed to improve communication in the following areas:

Face to face communication.

Young people asked staff to make sure they spoke to them directly, not through  their parents. There were similar requests that staff should do all they can to help young people feel involved in any decisions about their care and treatment. Young people felt it was important that they were treated like individuals, not just as their illness. There was a suggestion that health professionals could write notes and diagrams when explaining things, to make information more accessible.

Parents reminded staff to call them by their names, not just as mum or dad.

Staff to staff communication.

Parents felt there were lots of tools to help staff communicate with each other, such as the daily planner information boards, which are next to patient’s beds on inpatient wards, so reminded staff to keep the boards as up to date as possible and use them whenever they can.

A number of parents felt that staff should improve their communication with each other by communicating more often and thoroughly, rather than asking the parents and patients questions.

Communications via letters.

Young people asked for fewer and more comprehensive letters with details on timings, information on more topics, displayed via pictures/comic strips, as they felt the current language was not as ‘young people’ friendly as it could be. There was also a request for GOSH to use more text messages and emails.


Parents and patients made positive comments regarding the catering service, the top themes on what GOSH could improve about food were:

  1. More information on ingredients in dishes to help parents and patients when ordering meals.
  2. A bigger variety of meals, particularly on inpatient wards. Families wanted additional choices for:  hot, vegetarian, vegan and allergy options. Young people also asked for less spicy food, and more fresh fruit.
  3. Timings of mealtimes. Patients wanted more flexible mealtimes on the ward, to help when they have to leave the area for tests and operations. Parents asked GOSH to make sure salad boxes and hot meals were  still available late in the afternoon, in the Lagoon restaurant. Parents said they were often unable to leave their child until they had settled after their lunch.


The children and young people were complimentary about receiving adequate notice of their appointments and meeting welcoming staff when attending outpatient appointments.

The top themes where there was seen to be room for improvement were:


Children and young people suggested appointment letters could be sent in brightly coloured envelopes, with imagery of the animals of the ward/department they were visiting on the letters. There were also requests for extra information on: what will happen in scans/ tests; estimates of how long things will take; when their next appointments are; and to be given summaries of what happened at their appointments.

Parents said that they wanted to be given reasons when appointments are rescheduled. They also suggested that alerts could be sent to parents, before their arrival at the hospital, when there are delays in clinics.


Children and young people asked staff to remember to introduce themselves to patients and talk to them directly in appointments, not just their parents. A number of children asked whether they could be given a balloon or toy to celebrate their last outpatient appointment.

Both patients and parents wanted more things to do in the waiting room for older children.

Parents also asked whether more appointments could be scheduled for early mornings or at the weekends.


There were a number of suggestions on how to improve transition for young people and their parents, the key themes were:

  1. Communication. Families felt there needed to be more information on the subject, and that the information should be clearer.
  2. Support when going through transition. Both parents and patients felt there could be more support for them in their separate roles. Young people suggested transition events such as the one run by the Cardiac Department in 2016, but for all patients, please click here for a video on the event.
  3. Change of culture. Parents and patients wanted transition spoken about earlier and more openly. However, both parents and patients said that they did not want transition to be spoken about too early as some felt it was scary and could make them anxious.

What happens next?

This information is being shared with the teams who can make a difference to these topics and areas. Updates and progress will be shared on this webpage.

There are other ways to help make sure GOSH is always out of this world, please visit our, Tell us how we're doing page on our website.

If you are not a member of our Foundation Trust, find out more and sign up here

We also welcome current and ex-patients, aged 11 to 25, to become part of our Young People’s Forum

I have some questions about the listening event, who can I speak to?

Please contact Emma James on 020 7405 9200 extension 1378 or email for further information.