New disabled bays will be 'closer' to entrance at University Hospital of North Staffordshire
EXTRA disabled parking spaces may be created at a hospital after existing bays were located too far from the main entrance.
The University Hospital of North Staffordshire has confirmed it will review the provision as patients with wheelchairs, walking sticks and crutches currently face a 70-metre struggle across a new piazza from the nearest bay to the front door.
Chief executive, Julia Bridgewater, faced members of Staffordshire County Council's health scrutiny panel last night where questions were raised over problems for disabled visitors to the £400 million hospital as well accident unit waits, bed blocking problems, mortality rates, staff sickness and MRSA.
The Sentinel has previously revealed the 70-metre distance facing disabled patients to get to the hospital entrance.
Ruark HiFi - for lovers of good music and fantastic sound
Headphone offer is our own offer as test for these vouchers - so don't delay offer expires 25/05/13
Only with this voucher, choose a set of headphones up to 10% of the units price or add some to it if you want a dearer set
ie Unit for £300 would give you £30 towards headphones of your choice
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Saturday, May 25 2013
In response, the hospital unveiled plans to spend £60,000 on two buggies to ferry passengers to the entranceway.
Now the hospital admits there is a 'continuous review' to look at ways of improving and providing more disabled parking spaces.
To qualify for a blue disabled parking badge, applicants must prove that they cannot walk further than 50 metres (164ft) without being in pain.
This is less than the distance from the disabled bays to the entrance.
Mrs Bridgewater told the panel meeting at Newcastle's civic offices: "I accept the design isn't to everyone's liking but we are not going to make a major modification to the lay-out.
"Before approval all the plans had to go through bodies looking at disabled access – we have not just made them up.
"With the number of people accessing the hospital every day, it is not possible to provide space for everyone to park near the entrance but we are looking at an innovative solution."
Officials say the piazza near the new hospital's entrance was designed as a place for quiet reflection and where people could meet.
But Newcastle Mayor David Becket, a member of the borough health scrutiny committee, said: "This is a colossal area to cross in the wind and rain. People don't go to hospital to meet. We are not in Spain or Italy – we're in North Staffordshire where it is coal and raining a lot of the time."
Andy Day, co-ordinator of the North Staffordshire Pensioners' Convention, said: "It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.
"We have had a number of comments from our members on how difficult it is, not just disabled access, but just accessing the hospital.
"Surely it is not beyond the wit of mankind when designing a new hospital building to make sure that visitors, many of whom by its nature will be disabled, can gain access to it."
Pam Bryan, from Weston Coyney, vice-chairman of Stoke-on-Trent District Disability Network, is to meet hospital bosses over potential new plans for disabled parking.
Mrs Bryan, whose husband Geoffrey is disabled, said: "I have continuously raised this issue from when they began the design process of the new hospital.
"I am hopeful, during the meeting next month, that they will be able to offer some more parking.
"I have said in the past that the buggies discussed are better than nothing. But what we want is spaces within 50 metres of the entrance."