A PETITION has been lodged in a bid to push through long-awaited plans for a ‘vital’ park-and-ride facility to alleviate traffic and parking woes around Barnsley Hospital.
Ruling cabinet members accepted a recommendation from a council scrutiny group to carry out a feasibility study for the project – which has been spearheaded by Coun Peter Fielding, who is stepping down from representing the Dodworth ward next month – due to poor air quality in Gawber and Pogmoor.
However, an alleged lack of action since has prompted Coun Fielding to submit a 300-name petition to the council urging them to fulfil their promise to carry out the feasibility study and implement its findings.
He said: “I was shocked to find out that the council hasn’t even commissioned the feasibility study promised last summer.
“I have been offered a list of unacceptable excuses for the delay but this is simply not good enough.
“It feels as though the council is yet again kicking this can down the road and has no intention of ever setting up a park-and-ride for the hospital.”
NHS Digital data shows there were 21,520 outpatient appointments which people did not show up for in Barnsley over a 12-month period.
With the average outpatient appointment costing £160 – as estimated by several NHS trusts – the no-shows may have cost Barnsley Hospital more than £3m.
Although many diagnostic appointments have been moved to a multi-million pound NHS hub situated with the Glass Works in the town centre – an investment made to alleviate pressure on the hospital – congestion issues and illegal parking remain.
Coun Fielding believes a key reason for the no-shows is traffic and parking – and has urged the council to listen to the petitioners’ thoughts and assess potential sites in Dodworth.
“The problems continue unabated – traffic congestion and street parking around the hospital, late and missed appointments and excessive costs for patients,” he added.
“I’ve been told of outpatients who had queued for so long to park at the hospital that they turned round and parked in town and then got a taxi back to the hospital, costing them over £10.
“I’ve also heard from medical staff about the number of patients who miss or are late for appointments.
“Some departments were actively collecting names for the petition because they are so fed up with the parking problems.
“The petition was signed by patients from as far away as Nottingham, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Wakefield – this chaos isn’t a good look for Barnsley.
“Cabinet members make vague promises that at some point in the future more services may be moved from the hospital to the town centre which would incidentally reduce the pressure on parking.
“That is all well and good but something needs to be done now to avoid the costs and delays caused by missed appointments – there is enough pressure on the NHS without Barnsley Council adding to it by failing to deal with these parking problems.”