SOUTHMEAD Hospital has found itself embroiled in controversy after Charlotte Leslie – Conservative MP for Bristol North West announced she was going to investigate parking shortages at the hospital.
The hospital fully opened last month at a cost of £430 million as a replacement for the dated Frenchay hospital.
Four of the five levels of the hospital’s multi-storey car park are now available to the public but many people still find themselves having to wait over half an hour before they find a parking space.
In April Ms Leslie brought up the issue of staff parking with the North Bristol NHS Trust after it was reported that hundreds of members of staff at the hospital could quit due to a lack of parking.
She said: “NHS management has not always had a good reputation for listening to worries of staff as we have seen elsewhere. I don’t want our new Southmead Hospital to follow suit. I want this to be a hospital where whistle-blowers concerns are clearly heard and acted upon.
“We must not have a situation where the trust makes it so difficult for staff to get to work that they quit, thus putting patient safety at risk.
“I am looking forward to answers from the trust, clarifying their plans for catering for staff parking as the first step in trying to resolve this situation.”
Southmead Hospital will be constructing a new car park which is due to be completed by autumn 2015 and will increase the hospital’s number of parking spaces from 600 to 2,700.
This, however will involve the decommissioning and destruction of existing buildings on the site and, as of yet has not been started.
When the Gazette visited the hospital it discovered many people waiting for in car parks for spaces to become available.
One of them was David Brown from Kingswood who said: “I have to sit in the car while my wife goes to her appointment, I’ve been waiting for a space for nearly 15 minutes and now she has to go in alone or she'll be late.”
Sue Simpson, 50, from Thornbury was concerned about the lack of organisation at the hospital.
She said: “Its rubbish, the layout here is awful – buses block the roads and it takes forever to even get into a car park and when you do it’s full.
“I left 30 minutes early to get here for my appointment and now I might be late because there are no spaces.”
The multi-storey car park did have available parking spaces at the time.
Simon Wood the Director for Facilities for the North Bristol NHS Trust released a statement in response to the parking issues.
“A few weeks ago we did experience difficulties around parking and as a direct result we opened an additional floor of our multi-storey car park to patients and visitors. This means that four out of the five floors are for public use.
“We have been monitoring car parking spaces since this change and found that at all times of the day, there have been an ample number of spaces available at car parks across the site.”
Last week Seagulls damaged the roof of the new building by dropping stones on it as part of their mating ritual and the hospital has also been criticised for spending almost £250,000 on an ‘unreadable’ clock.
A spokesman for the North Bristol NHS Trust said: “As part of the arts programme, we needed an installation that would cover the three atria along the 290m space.
"This is our largest and most significant commission. The light sculptures do enable you to tell the time, but it is not their primary function.”