Parking issues at Sheffield hospital leading to patients missing appointments and staff being fined

Healthcare staff are being fined and patients are missing appointments because of a lack of parking spaces at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 20th February 2020, 10:10 am

So claims a health service user whose daughter also works at the hospital, who says he can see the stress she is under because of it.

The man, who prefered to remain anonymous, said staff can be left driving round the car park ‘for hours’, with some even resorting to parking off-site, putting their own safety at risk.

And the lack of parking facilities is also affecting patients, he says, with many visitors missing appointments which in turn has a knock-on effect on the public purse.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Northern General Hospital.

“There are lots of car parks there but they are all overloaded,” he said.

“The staff car parks get full up and those people then have to use the patient car parks.

“But they already pay for a parking permit and then have to fork out for the pay and display instead.

“And that has a knock-on effect for patients who can’t get to their appointments.

“The staff are trying their hardest just to start work and they just don’t need it.”

The man said his daughter was recently fined £30 after being unable to park in the staff car park and leaving her car outside a designated space.

“People are turning up for work three-quarters of an hour early and then getting fined if they are just a tiny bit over a line,” he said.

“And outpatients are missing appointments because they are just driving round looking for a space. It’s like throwing money away.”

Sheffielders have been complaining about parking at the sprawling site for years, with the site poorly serviced by public transport and the surrounding streets tightly packed with cars and houses.

Under plans proposed by Conservatives at the last election, disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts will not have to pay for NHS car parking from April 2020.

The car park is operated by private firm Saba Parking, a Spanish company who bought the British-based Indigo UK in 2018.

Andrew Jones, facilities director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We do understand that finding a car parking space can be difficult, and that is why we have created additional spaces where possible and also issued more staff parking permits.

“We look at every opportunity to increase parking, but constraints on space and a cost of many millions for a multi-storey car park mean it is not a feasible option at the moment.

“The percentage of fines which are issued is less than 0.001% of the total number of people who use our car parks and at least two warning notices are issued before progressing to a fine.

“We have an appeals process because we recognise that there may be circumstances that are unavoidable such as an appointment time overrunning.

“We do provide free parking for disabled patients with a blue badge and have a number of concessions in place including for long stay patients.

“We also have free drop off zones for accident and emergency patients. In addition to this, we are working closely with partners to encourage the use of alternative transport options.

“There is a shuttle bus which runs between the Northern General and Royal Hallamshire Hospitals which is free for Trust staff, and we also have a Travel Plan Coordinator who can work with staff and visitors to help them plan their journey to hospital.”