Editor: Travel to hospital should not add to our existing worries

Parking has been a problem at Sheffield’s hospitals for as long as I can remember – and it isn’t getting any better.

By Nancy Fielder
Monday, 28th June 2021, 7:04 am
Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.
Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.

The Northern General is by far the worst. Everybody in the city knows it and you rarely hear people mention that they have an appointment there without adding that they’ll have to allow extra time to park or they’ve had to beg a lift from somebody willing to sit in the car while they see the medics.

I have heard horror stories of people missing vital appointments and everybody we spoke to for today’s story, agreed that action was needed.

So why are we pouring more services onto one site without a care for how people get there and the impact a stressful journey can have on people who, in many cases, are already ill or sick with worry about loved ones they are going to see?

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Now I would love to use this as an opportunity to say that Sheffielders should use their cars less and that these parking issues are of our own making. But a quick look at public transport in that area shows this just isn’t the case.

Supertram would have been a brilliant solution, but we all know it goes nowhere near. Park and ride would ease the crisis, but it isn’t on the cards. A multi-storey car park, as shown at the Children’s Hospital which until recently had the same problems, would solve it. No doubt it would charge a fortune and clearly would encourage more driving, but I don’t even see that happening in the near future.

As more and more patients have to attend that enormous site for a growing range of treatments and consultations, this problem isn’t going away. Thousands of Sheffielders are sent to that one point from every corner of the city every single day and, sadly, car is by far the most reliable way to get there.

I don’t think any of us would advocate that elderly ladies needing their cataracts removed or even young men with broken legs should be cycling across town.

So what’s the answer? Well, for the last couple of decades it has been complete denial by hospital bosses and transport chiefs. The situation just gets worst, more stress is added to all. Offer us a reliable, affordable and attractive alternative and we will gladly get out of our cars. Nobody needs this extra anxiety when working or visiting hospital for any reason.