NHS reform? A small change

The coalition government are working on proposals for large scale reform of the NHS. Here is a policy suggestion from a designers’ point of view.

A characteristic of  waiting rooms of the NHS, and mainly the GP surgery, is the information poster. The posters – how to quit smoking, what to eat, opening times etc – spill out of the notice boards, and are blue tacked on to the the walls and doors, as if aiming to cover every surface.

The posters and print outs are full of good information. But there is a lot of visual clutter. Is there too much to take in? Are there too many diseases, photos of diseases, hazards and things you should be doing presented to you as you sit and wait for your appointment? And you may not catch those important opening times, if you don’t scan every perpendicular surface.

So, here is the new policy. All posters and notices to be confined to notice boards!

The result? A calmer, cleaner, more organised looking space. The service feels more organised and reassuring as a result.  It is a better place to sit when you are uncomfortable or worried.  The pinned up posters look tidy and professional, not just stuck up on a door by overworked staff trying to communicate with the public.

There may be fewer messages, but they could have greater impact and authority. They would have space around them to breathe.  Its a way of rationalising a space, just the way a designer would organise a web or magazine page.

The new found space could make way for a calm area of well chosen flat colour or a soothing image of a landscape, a ‘window’ on the outside world that everyone responds to.

Looking ahead, as print dwindles, it may be that all the information will come to us via a stimulating large bright screen with moving update-able graphics, in the post reform NHS waiting rooms.

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