Hospital staff encouraged to look at ‘more healthy’ ways of getting to work

Health chiefs in Derry say they are always encouraging staff to participate in “more healthy and sustainable” ways of travelling to work.

A spokesperson for the Western Trust (WHSCT) says it has introduced a range of measures aimed at reducing congestion at hospital sites in Derry and Omagh.

These schemes, say the Trust, are also targeted at lessening the number of single occupancy vehicles accessing its hospital sites.

Only recently, it emerged that staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast have been asked not to drive to work.

Patients and visitors at the west Belfast hospital are also being asked to avoid coming by car when possible.

It’s understood the Belfast Health Trust is trying to address a big shortage of parking at the hospital where staff are allocated more than two thirds of existing spaces.

Patients and visitors who travel to the hospital from across NI often endure long delays and queues while waiting for a parking space.

The Belfast Trust estimates that it currently takes 30-50 minutes to access a public car parking space during peak times between 10am and 12.30pm and 1.30pm and 3.30pm.

The trust thinks reducing the number of staff travelling to work by car will increase the car parking provision for patients.

The WHSCT, meanwhile, says it has a number of incentives aimed at getting staff to use alternative ways of getting to work, including public transport, walk-to-work, cycle-to-work and car share schemes.

A spokesperson said: “The Trust has implemented a number of key enablers on the hospital sites to help encourage staff to participate in these more healthy and sustainable options for coming on the hospital sites.

“These include bike shelters, pop up bike repairs, showering facilities, walk routes, step challenges and walking clubs at break times to encourage staff to get up and get moving with a view to walking or cycling to work.

“On the Altnagelvin site, the Trust has in place a car sharing scheme for employees supported by an online membership scheme where staff can log on and check if there are existing car sharing groups in place in their home area or if any other member of staff from their locality has logged an interest in setting up a car share group.”