Jul 21 2010 by Iain Howie, Stirling Observer Wednesday
PARKING problems at the new Forth Valley Royal Hospital are to be probed by Ochil and South Perthshire MP Gordon Banks.
A number of his constituents have complained over the allocation policy by NHS Forth Valley which has left thousands of staff without parking at the £300 million hospital.
And, according to the staff who contacted us, many of whom are non-medical workers, the buses laid on to ferry them to and from work are poorly timed.
Mr Banks said that in his investigations he has learned that it could take up to two hours by bus in place of a 20-minute car journey.
He said: “Staff feel the system to determine eligibility for the permits is deeply flawed and I am inclined to agree with them. The new hospital is not particularly well served by public transport from Clackmannanshire, therefore it’s necessary that members of staff use their car.
“There is also a safety issue for staff working shift patterns especially when those shifts finish late at night and it would be much safer for staff to be able to have their cars parked close by.
“I took the opportunity to raise this issue again with Ian Mullen (chair of NHS Forth Valley) last week on a visit to the new hospital and asked that he look again at this issue as it is causing a great deal of concern to members of the staff.
“We need a situation where staff and those with special access requirements are given priority to ensure they are able to carry out their duties. I hope the health board will re-consider its approach to this issue.
“This matter is impacting on working relationships and constituents have been attending my surgeries to express their anger. I feel that the current assessment process is open to variable interpretation and I would urge all staff members who have not received a permit to lodge an appeal.
“People living in Clackmannanshire are now finding that, despite the millions of pounds of health board money invested in this public hospital to increase access, they will be expected to make public transport journeys of up to two hours for what would be a 20-minute car journey. This is untenable and must be resolved.”
The burning issue has filled the Observer’s letter box after we wrote about the case of two workers from Stirling and the Wee County last Wednesday.
We’ve been inundated with angry workers and members of the public concerned about parking difficulties and this is before the hospital has even opened.
Others have told us they’ll need to catch two buses to get to work, while one asked if NHS Forth Valley had considered a park and ride facility to ease the travel pressures on staff.
One wrote: “During the bad weather of recent years a call came from management at Falkirk Royal that all non-essential staff should make their way home. This was the managers, office staff, etc who it would seem are the ones who have now been given a parking permit.
“The staff who were asked to remain at their posts were nurses, switchboard, cleaners, and porters to name but a few. We have not been awarded a permit.
“Parking at the new hospital without a permit is allowed when it is a bank holiday such as Christmas Day when all the staff with a permit will all be at home (non-essential staff).
“As the hospital is not live just now all the essential staff who start at 6am-7am are using most of the spaces, hence the reason why permits have been issued to the non-essential staff who will start at 9, and who could use public transport; it is to make sure there is room left for them.
“Am I to be grateful to them that I can use their space eight days a year while they enjoy the bank holidays?”