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Technology to be used to tackle lack of parking at regional hospitals including Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough City

Number plate recognition technology could be used to tackle lack of parking at regional hospitals.

A new plan proposes the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to monitor and limit the number of vehicles that can gain parking access to the regions three hospitals, Peterborough City, Hinchingbrooke and Stamford and Rutland.

North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust (NWAFT), the body responsible has put forward a proposal to tackle the problem in its Green Travel Plan.

The ANPR screening will be used to ensure that only the approved staff cars are parking at the hospital sites.

Members of the public will still use the on-site payment machines, as before.

In the past, staff parking facilities have been abused with some people parking there when they should not, this new system should resolve the problem.

The provision for parking, or rather the lack of it has been an issue, particularly at Peterborough City Hospital (PCH), almost since it opened in 2010.

Addressing members of Peterborough City Council health scrutiny committee at their online meeting this week, Dr Kanchan Rege, deputy CEO at NAWFT said: “Parking at our regional hospitals has long been recognised as a problem that causes difficulties for staff, visiting relatives and the movement of patients.

“Staff in particular complain of frustration at getting to work at change-over times, and for patients trying to get to appointments which can be time-critical.

“The previous Travel Plan for PCH and Stamford and Rutland Hospital was prepared in February 2016, prior to the merging of Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust and Peterborough and Stamford NHS Foundation Trust to form North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust in April 2017.

“Given the merger of the Trusts, the Travel Plan required a review and update to incorporate the additional site and to update baseline data.

“The Trust commissioned WS Atkins to prepare an updated Green Travel Plan and Car Parking Management Plan for the three hospital sites.

“These reports were prepared having reviewed the current and future challenges and identified clear actions that needed to be addressed in order to better manage the car parking on each hospital site.

“The car parking issues being experienced on our hospital sites were: insufficient patient parking spaces to meet requirements; insufficient staff parking spaces to meet requirements of working arrangements during peak hours of 8am-4pm; different car parking management arrangements on each of our three hospital sites.

“In addition, patients were being negatively impacted through missing appointment times due to lack of car parking or ease of access to our car parking facilities.

“In March 2020, as part of the Trust’s response to the covid-19 pandemic, non-clinical projects were reviewed in order to maximise resources and refocus staff time on patient-facing activities; enable non-patient facing staff to work at home/isolate or shield as necessary.

“As a result, work to progress the Green Travel Plan and Car Parking Management Plan was paused for a six-month period. In that time the Trust also made parking free for patients, staff and any visitors.

“Parking charges were reinstated in September 2020 for patients and visitors; but the Trust has committed to keeping parking free for staff in this financial year until the end of March 2021.

“The Trust is now working on the following actions: the appointment of a dedicated project manager to lead the Green Travel Plan and Car Parking Management Plan; the procurement of a Car Parking Management Company that will use ANPR technology that will monitor and limit the number of vehicles that can gain access to the sites; to undertake a consultation exercise for all car park users to develop an agreed approach for charging; to resume discussions with Stagecoach bus company; to resume discussions with local authority regarding an additional entry/exit point to serve the PCH site; and to finalise Trust Agile Working Policy.

“We shall also be installing electronic charging points on all Trust sites by March 31 2021, and revising the Trust car lease scheme for staff by restricting access to vehicles with higher emissions.”

Next steps are for NAWFT to appoint a car park manager, inform staff of the desire for them to adopt other forms of transport, bus or cycling where possible to get to work, and also to link in with Peterborough City Council to look at the possibility of an additional exit and entrance at the PCH site, while addressing the issues of residents’ parking at the same time.

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