Car park queues have been the source of many a headache for those visiting Kettering General Hospital in recent years.
Last week we revealed hospital bosses planned to build a second storey on Car Park B in a bid to alleviate pressure.
Today KGH have outlined further details on how they hope to ease congestion in the hospital’s grounds, including changing entrance points and reducing short-stay car park tariffs.
Perhaps the biggest announcement is that access to the hospital for those travelling by car will completely change.
Entrance Two (close to the bus stop in Rothwell Road) will become a red route for emergency vehicles only, with public access moving to the Telford Way roundabout via Haweswater Road where cars currently exit.
Project manager John Pratt says this will help those in need of immediate treatment reach the hospital more quickly.
He said: “If you have an ambulance stuck in that area you cannot do anything with it and that is our main concern.
“By introducing the red route – along with level crossing-type flashing lights to halt vehicles accessing car park A when ambulances are coming on to site – we can ensure that patients with life-threatening conditions reach A&E as quickly as possible.
“It gets very congested but the car park was built many years ago when not everybody had a car.
“We are working with highways to put up new signage from the town centre and A14/A43 Northern Bypass.
“It will cause some confusion to some people but by the time we have got everything in place it will be far better for everybody.”
As part of the shake-up there will be a number of changes to Car Park A to make it a short-stay cark park.
These include: 55 to 60 short-stay spaces, 45 disabled spaces, two ‘drop and go’ zones with free exits within 15 minutes and work on ramps to assist patients to outpatients and main reception.
The price to park in the short-stay car park has not yet been finalised, but deputy director of estates and facilities Craig Catterick says it will be “significantly lower”.
He said: “The first 15 minutes in Car Park A will be free but effectively anyone entering the car park will get 45 minutes.
“It’s not been set yet but it will be a nominal fee and will be significantly lower.
“There will be penalties for people who run over that 45-minute limit to make sure it is a short-stay car park. If outpatients are running late [and people run over 45 minutes] people will get a letter they can take to the parking office to waive the extra fee.
“The changes to Car Park A should make it easier for disabled people and all those involved in short-stay drop-off at the hospital – and again this should help to reduce queuing on site.”
Currently, parking for up to two hours costs visitors and patients £3.20. The second deck in Car Park B will see an extra 240 spaces made available should planning permission be granted.
Mr Pratt says there will be no scope for a further storey and the deck will follow the perimeter of the current site.
He said: “You can’t put another deck on but we feel the second deck will be adequate.
“Once work begins, design and weather permitting, it will take around 16 weeks to put the deck up. It will follow the perimeter of Car Park B as it is currently.”
Work on the car parks will be done in phases to minimise disruption, but Mr Pratt revealed the trust were in early discussions about opening up a park and ride scheme.
He added: “Car Park B will still be available and the deck will be put up in different phases.
“We are in early discussions with local partners about the possibility of a park and ride scheme but we can’t say any more than that at this stage.”
A complete timescale of the works has not yet been finalised but the public should see the first signs of work going on over the next two weeks.
Work will begin on enlarging/re-creating the entrance to Car Park B via the new route, establishing a site compound behind the social club and replacing double yellow lines with double red lines.
These double red lines will be placed along the road which runs alongside Car Park B, down to the roundabout adjacent to Glebe House and from there down to Rockingham Wing.
Other work will follow as details of the new arrangements are finalised.