Derry commuters are taking up free parking spaces in Altnagelvin Hospital while they take the bus to Belfast, members of the Western Trust were told this morning.
The board was briefed on the draft car parking operational procedures for Altnagelvin Hospital and were told of complaints about able bodied people parking in disabled bays, people parking in set down areas, parking on footpaths, and insufficient capacity at the hospital.
There were also complaints about free spaces being taken up all day by people who use public transport to get to Belfast.
A number of control measures to manage unauthorised parking at Altnagelvin Hospital have been presented to board members.
They include red stickers, parking fines, clamping and towing away for the most serious offenders.
Staff and members of the public were engaged on plans for the car park, however only one response from the public has been received.
The Trust Board members were told that patients in wheelchairs are often forced to wheel on to the grass when they are moving between hospital buildings because cars are parked on the footpath.
There were calls for provision to be made for workers who have to leave the hospital grounds during the day and when they return have to pay parking charges because there are no free spaces are available.
Western Trust Chief Executive Elaine Way said she remembered a car being towed away when it was parked dangerously at A&E.
“People abuse car parks all over society, what we are trying to do here is improve patient flow. When we tried clamping before it became a deterrent as word got around and the threat of it changed behaviour.”
Medical Director Alan McKinney said he remembered a car parking outside A&E disrupting the flow of traffic and an ambulance couldn’t get out.
“There’s no excuse for someone non disabled using a disabled space,” he said.
The meeting was told that currently the hospital is short 130 spaces however the hospital should have capacity spaces when the new multi storey car park opens in September.
However enforcement will most likely be carried out by a licensed private contractor.
There were a number of concerns about how the measures would be implemented and a decision on the parking was deferred.
“Historically car parking has been a controversial issue,” said Trust chair Gerard McGuckian. “The new multi storey has to make a big difference but because this issue is so controversial we must make sure we get it right.”