A health watchdog says improvements have been made at Hinchingbrooke Hospital following a report issued last year which called for changes in the emergency department.

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire said that privacy for patients and continuous staffing of the reception desk were two key issues raised during a visit to the hospital's emergency department in October, last year.

The independent monitoring body also visited the Huntingdon hospital to talk to patients and find out about their experiences of care, with patients saying that it could be busy and people weren't always getting the privacy they needed.

As a result, Healthwatch wrote a report making 11 recommendations to improve care. These were based on what inspectors observed and what the 64 patients spoke to had told them about their experiences.

The hospital subsequently developed a plan to improve services based on the recommendations.

Since the visit, Healthwatch said a number of improvements had been made.

A spokesman said: "There is now a rota in place to make sure the emergency department reception is covered 24 hours a day. This was after we saw long queues develop at the triage desk when reception was not staffed.

"Patients are now triaged in an assessment room when they arrive in the emergency department. This was after we raised concerns about confidentiality at the front desk."

The spokesman added that the hospital had also undertaken a dementia assessment of the emergency department and that a room had been identified that could be classified as dementia friendly.

Sophie Ives, operations manager for emergency care at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, said: "We are always grateful for any constructive feedback regarding patient experience and have taken these comments on board. In this instance Healthwatch flagged up a few areas that we could rectify.

"The emergency department reception desk now has a member of staff there 24 hours a day to make sure that queues are kept to a minimum and patients can be quickly booked in and triaged to receive the most appropriate care. We also now have a dedicated assessment room which provides a private space for patients to discuss their symptoms with a nurse.

"To ensure patients receive regular drinks we now have a dedicated housekeeper and volunteers who can provide beverages and are about to install a coffee machine in the waiting area."