Patients visiting Townlands Memorial Hospital and the doctors’ surgeries in York Road are still struggling to park and there are claims that the hospital car park is being abused by people parking for work or going to the shops as there is no car parking management system in place after Smart Parking’s contract was cancelled in May this year.
However, the Herald ran a Facebook poll over the last 7 days asking “In the last 6 months, have you had trouble finding a car parking space at Townlands Hospital in Henley for an appointment or to visit the Minor Injuries Unit?” 228 people answered with 65% No and 35% Yes.
Townlands hospital staff declined to comment but were surprised at the result of the poll. NHS Properties Services have been looking at appointing a nationwide contract to a new company but to date no agreement has been made. A spokesperson for NHSPS said, “NHS Property Services (NHSPS) has been working hard to resolve the car parking situation at Townlands Memorial Hospital. We regret the length of time it has taken to bring about a suitable solution for patients. NHSPS is close to announcing the new national car parking operator. However, due to commercial and legal sensitivities we are unable to provide further comment.”
Smart Parking also had a contract with the doctors’ surgeries but this was cancelled after numerous wrongly issued fines were given to patients in November 2018. After this the surgeries asked patients to park in public car parks to allow the spaces at the surgeries for those patients who are disabled, frail, elderly or acutely unwell.
A joint statement from the Bell and Hart Surgeries (B&HS) said, “It is clear that our car park is not big enough for everyone who would like to park there. Our main concern is that those who really cannot walk far – the frail, the disabled and the acutely unwell – are able to park near to the surgery, which is why we have significantly increased the number of disabled car parking spaces available to these patients (you don’t have to have a disabled badge to park in these spaces).
Asked whether there are plans to do the logical thing and work with NHS Properties to provide free parking for both hospital and surgeries.
B&HS replied, “We have had our fingers badly burnt with the Smart Parking scheme which was exactly that, introduced with the best intention of making the parking situation better yet remaining free of charge for our patients. We would of course, consider any new proposal and discuss it with our patient panel. However, it is unlikely that we could be convinced to introduce another similar scheme in the near future.”
Surgery staff have designated spaces at the surgery. B&HS stated, “Many of our staff, such as GPs and those who visit patients at home need to park in our car park to make best use of their time. We encourage all staff who live locally to walk or cycle to work but for some who have time or financial constraints, there is no viable alternative but to park in the surgery car park. We encourage our staff to park within the designated staff section of the car park and to maximise the number of parking spaces available for patients.”
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