Oxfordshire community hospital bosses consider charges for parking

Former Wallingford mayor Ros Lester is opposed to parking charges

Former Wallingford mayor Ros Lester is opposed to parking charges

First published in Headlines Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Health reporter, also covering Kidlington. Call me on 01865 425271

CHARGING patients and staff permits are being considered for community hospitals after complaints over parking.

Oxford Health is looking at changes that would affect Headington’s Warneford Hospital and hospitals in Littlemore, Abingdon, Witney and Wallingford after an increase in demand for spaces.

Complaints have come from, among others, Prime Minister David Cameron, and in the form of more than 1,000 emails from staff.

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust’s 43 car parks have no restrictions, unlike general hospitals such as the city’s John Radcliffe.

Principles such as paid permits for staff, pay and display fees and getting a private firm to run car parks have been put to bosses.

A report to the board said: “At many of the trust’s sites current demand for car parking exceeds present capacity, and severe difficulties are being experienced by those patients, visitors and staff.”

Some 629 people work at Abingdon Hospital, for example, but it has only 114 spaces.

Witney has 328 staff and 69 spaces and Littlemore Hospital, Sandford Road has 1,036 staff with 220 spaces.

Parked vehicles have also blocked fire exits, access routes for emergency vehicles and walkways, it says.

Clinics are being hit by late or missed appointments, it adds, and lost time when staff cannot park.

Littlemore Hospital said ward shifts had been “compromised” because staff could not park and trainees had missed sessions.

A judge presiding over Mental Health Act hearings said tribunals had been scrapped at Littlemore and Headington’s Warneford Hospital.

Wantage MP Ed Vaizey and Mr Cameron raised concerns about Witney Hospital and Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood about Abingdon.

Atwell Close, Wallingford resident Maura Lennon, 87, said she struggled to park at Wallingford Medical Practice, which shares spaces with the town’s hospital.

She said: “On Thursday I had to park in a disabled space and go into the surgery and say, ‘look, we are parked there, which is pretty awful because a disabled person might need it’. You can’t get a parking space on the road near it. It is a bit of shambles.”

Former Mayor of Wallingford Ros Lester said: “Please, please don’t charge. We want to be able to drive up and see our doctor and not worry about change and how long you are staying for.”

Trust spokesman Alistair Duncan said: “Everything is still under consideration.”

Expansion of services had “led to increased demand for car parking” he said.

Other trust car parks include Boundary Brook House, Headington, the Fulbrook Centre at the Churchill Hospital and the Fiennes Centre at Banbury’s Horton General Hospital.

Parking at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust’s John Radcliffe , Churchill Hospital, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Banbury’s Horton General Hospital is free for the first 30 minutes.

Charges are then £1.40 for 30 minutes to an hour; £2.80 from an hour to two hours; £4.20 from two to three hours; £5.60 from three to four hours and £7 for more than four hours. Parking is free from 8pm to 8am.

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