Detailed Access Guides - Royal Papworth Hospital

Royal Papworth Hospital is the UK’s leading heart and lung hospital, treating more than 100,000 patients each year from across the UK.

It is the only facility in the UK for a number of specialist services including pulmonary endarterectomy and balloon pulmonary angioplasty.

Since carrying out the UK’s first successful heart transplant in 1979, Royal Papworth now performs more heart and lung transplants than any other UK centre each year.

The hospital moved from the village of Papworth Everard, its home for 101 years, to a state-of-the-art hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in spring 2019.

Royal Papworth Hospital Buliding

The Challenge

For patients, visitors and staff, wayfinding around a new site and locating accessible facilities presented a challenge. This meant that AccessAble’s Access Guides were a key tool for everyone to use, and we ensured that they were distributed both publicly and through staff networks.

The Solution

Prior to the hospital opening, AccessAble’s surveyors visited the site to collect as much information as possible, recording facts, figures and photographs for everything from parking facilities and hearing loops, to walking distances and accessible toilets. We worked in consultation with the Trust, enabling us to answer their questions about accessibility as the new site works were taking place. Once the new Royal Papworth hospital opened, AccessAble’s surveyors revisited to collect information on fixtures including beds and furniture.

AccessAble were able to support the Royal Papworth Hospital in recommending further improvements to accessibility, showing that Access Guides are still key even for new build sites. For example, there is flooring which includes patterns or colours which could be confusing or look like steps or holes to some people on route to 93% of services, and a hearing assistance system is only available in 29% of services.

We were also able to flag up some unexpected accessibility issues. For example, patients and visitors can only access other floors via lifts, as the hospital’s stairs are behind a locked door that can only be accessed by swiping a staff ID card. This could cause accessibility issues for people who do not wish or are not able to use lifts.

As well as supporting staff with wayfinding, the Access Guide project was rolled out across staff areas, providing Detailed Access Guides and guidance to help the Trust improve accessibility across staff areas.


"It was important to us that we worked closely with AccessAble to develop these guides for our new hospital.

The hospital was designed with the patient’s journey in mind, such as having the Outpatients Unit easily accessible in one place on the ground floor with clear wayfinding signage to each department.

We hope that these guides, which can be vital to patients and visitors – as well as staff – help to support that work to make a person’s visit to us as smooth as possible."

Eilish Midlane

Chief Operating Officer at Royal Papworth Hospital