The Western Trust is considering a park and ride scheme to bus workers to the new South West Acute Hospital because it does not have sufficient car parking spaces for all its workers.
Moreover, the Impartial Reporter has learned that the proposed transfer of Social Services to the hospital which was due to commence on July 17 has been postponed specifically because there are not enough car parking spaces for the employees that would be making the move from the Belmore House and Coleshill bases.
Indeed, all staff at the new �270 million hospital have been sent a 'Staff Travel to Work' survey to gauge their opinion on car parking and whether there would be support for a park and ride system or car sharing. It is believed that the park and ride scheme would operate from the car park at the back of the now defunct Erne Hospital and would be more suitable for those working shifts. Staff are being consulted for their preferred option of travelling to work. Car parking is already a problem and one disgruntled staff member told the Impartial Reporter that car sharing is already taking place among members of staff due to the paucity of available space and workers are not leaving the site of the hospital in their breaks for fear that they will lose their car parking spaces on their return.
While there are still workmen on the site of the new hospital increasing current demand for car parking spaces, it is feared that the necessary car parking spaces needed for all the employees has been underestimated, hence the need for park and ride and car sharing.
Car parking has been one of the most contentious issues since the opening of the South West Acute Hospital with visitors and patients set to be charged for parking from September onwards.
The Impartial Reporter asked the Western Trust directly as to when and how the car parking issues for employees will be resolved and received the following response from Sara Groogan, Director of Performance and Service Improvement at the Western Trust.
She said: "The Trust is continuing with its staff relocation programme onto the South West Acute Hospital site. Car parking arrangements are being reviewed based on the levels of demand which have been experienced since the hospital opened on 21 June, 2012. The staff relocation programme, alongside the review of car parking arrangements, are being considered at a Trust Board meeting later this week." The Trust did confirm also that Social Services remain based at Coleshill but gave no indication as to when the matter would be resolved.
Meanwhile Ulster Unionist MLA, Tom Elliott has said that he will seek answers from senior Health Trust officials following reports from a number of constituents about lengthy delays in the A&E department at the South West Acute Hospital.
Mr Elliott said: "In the past number of days I have had a number of people contact me about delays they have experienced when waiting for treatment at the A&E department at the hospital. In one case, a lady who went in after midnight following a fall, which resulted in a shoulder dislocation, was not treated for eight hours, while another gentleman had to wait five hours for treatment.
"While most people understand that you may not be seen immediately upon arrival at the hospital, making people wait for hours when they are in agony is not acceptable. Not only is there a chance that their injury could worsen without been seen, but also sitting in a waiting room for hours will understandably cause people to become increasingly frustrated and upset.
"I should make it clear that the individuals I spoke to had nothing but praise for the doctors and nurses that treated them. Their anger was focused solely on the lengthy periods of time they had to wait.
"I will seek answers about this matter at a meeting I am having in the near future with Senior Trust official Joe Lusby. It is everyone's interests to see action taken that will cut down the periods of time people are being required to wait for treatment."