ONLY a handful of people turned out for the Great Western Hospital Trust’s first ever public open evening, despite being publicised in the Adver for several weeks before.

The event on Monday was an opportunity for members of the public to share their views, concerns and compliments about the GWH with members of staff at the Trust in round table open discussions.

But only 15 people turned out for the event, billed to take place between 6.30pm and 9pm, to give constructive feedback about the services provided at the hospital.

This was despite the Trust hiring out the largest conference room – the Inspiration room – offered by the De Vere Hotel in Shaw Ridge.

But GWH director of strategy Kevin McNamara remained positive about the event, saying that it provided a good opportunity for improvement.

He said: “It was the first time that we have held the event and we weren’t sure how many people might come along and we wanted to make sure there was enough room to accommodate all the people who turned up and wanted to share their experiences with us.

“It was very successful. It’s something that we do want to run again particularly in North Wiltshire, because about a third of patients come from Wiltshire.”

The meeting, while open to members of the public, was run along Care Quality Commission lines, with media representatives asked to leave shortly before the discussions began.

Kevin said: “CQC invite media along to the beginning of their meetings and then ask them to leave. It’s to help people feel comfortable that when they are sharing their stories and their experiences they are not at risk of being reported on something that they might not want to be.”

Michael Northcott, 58, from Pinehurst, was one of the members of the public who had gone along to the event.

Speaking before the event, he said: “The biggest thing for me was the discussion and that’s what I came along for.

“I think it’s an absolutely brilliant idea. They have got about 16 people from the GWH to talk to people. It’s just a shame that not many people turned up. It’s such a good opportunity for people to give their feedback.

“I think it should have been publicised more though. There weren’t any posters in the hospital or anything.”

The meeting was supported by Healthwatch Swindon, who were delighted to be involved in the event.

Speaking before the meeting Pete Rowe, manager of Healthwatch Swindon, said: “We are really excited to be involved in such an event. As an independent organisation that champions the voice of the people on health and social care services, this is a wonderful opportunity for the people to have their say and share their experiences – both good and bad.”