"Problems with disabled car parking at Derriford Hospital"

About: Derriford Hospital / General medicine

(as the patient),

There is a so called "grace" period given to the disabled in the new disabled car park which is far too short. On a recent out patient visit, it took me nearly 20 minutes from the time the barrier closed as I drove in, to the time I arrived at my clinic which ran late as usual. Then, I encountered a further delay at the on site Lloyds Chemist while I waited for my medication.

In total, my parking time was made up as follows - to and from clinic, 35 minutes, waiting at clinic, 35 minutes, in clinic, 10 minutes, chemist, 20 minutes.

Then, I find the parking machine is open to the weather has incomprehensible instructions, is very difficult to use by those with limited dexterity, and does not give change which in itself is unacceptable.

This detracts from the excellent treatment given by the doctors and the nursing staff and makes a stressful and sometimes unpleasant experience even more so.

The parking issue affects everyone visiting the hospital and I would love to find out just how many appointments are missed annually because of the inability to find somewhere to park your car. With the continued reduction in public transport, this situation will only get worse.

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Responses

Response from Genny Turner, Senior Quality Facilitator, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Good afternoon,

There is a one hour grace period in the recently opened disabled car park at Derriford Hospital but beyond this time parking tariffs do apply. The intention of the grace period was to ensure that those who had limited mobility would not be penalised by having to pay for parking whilst travelling to the hospital from the car park, and whilst returning to the car park after their visit. The mail below mentions a travelling time to and from the car park of 35 minutes, and the hour grace period ensured that this time was, in effect, free parking.

You may be pleased to learn that following comments from users a car park machine upgrade is currently in design which is intended to ensure that the parking equipment displays are clearer. The new design will be in use in the coming weeks.

You are correct in that change is not issued by the machines in the disabled car park – however, signs are in place which does inform users that they can pay at the parking desk if they wish, where exact payment could be made. In addition, there is a facility to pay by card at the machines in the disabled car park which would also ensure that exact payment was made.

Your comment about lack of space is noted but the geography of the site is such that parking space is extremely limited. However, the Plymouth NHS Trust is constantly looking for ways to increase both visitor parking and the overall satisfaction of those arriving at Derriford. As well as the disabled car park, a Multi-Storey Car Park has also recently been built to try to meet ever greater demands. It should also be borne in mind that over the last six months part of the available car parking at Derriford has been converted into a major helicopter landing site after the hospital was designated the Peninsula Trauma Centre for which no suitable landing facilities previously existed.

Regards,

Ian

VINCI Park Services UK Ltd

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Update posted by Nonnymoose (the patient)

Many thanks for taking the time to reply. I will reserve judgement until my next visit which will be at the end of June. I have to say however that the one hour "grace" period is really too short. If you allow say an average of say 35 minutes to and from the clinic, then an average of say 15 minutes at the clinic and an average of say 15 minutes delay at the clinic, then add in waiting time for blood tests say another 15 minutes and another 15 minutes at X_Ray.

Next a visit to Lloyds Pharmacy, my average wait there is 15 minutes. That all adds up to around 1 hour 40 minutes if you are lucky, of which only some 15 - 20 minutes would be taken up by treatment. The rest of the time is made up by unavoidable delays due to physical disability, the Labyrinthine design of the hospital and the sheer numbers of people using the hospital or that you must arrive early to ensure your arrival at the clinic at the required time. Not to forget up to 10 minutes waiting for the lifts!

I take your point about paying at the desk, but having finished my treatment which can be tiring in itself and then finding that if I require change, I have to walk all the way back to the desk. Hardly a good impression for the hospital or for Vinci who both give the impression of profiting from the sick.

Personally, I feel it is very unfair to make anyone, disabled or otherwise, pay for parking for time caused by the establishment itself and waiting times at clinics and treatments etc., must be taken into account when calculating grace periods and parking charges.

On a separate matter, I have not yet seen any progress on the removal of the duck pond which manifests itself after anything other than a light rain shower.

Everything mentioned here affect the patient in some way or another, and should be considered as part of any treatment given. (BMJ 2015;350:h1312)