Staff face 12 mile round trip as hospital expands parking

Staff face 12 mile round trip as hospital expands parking
Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury

The hospital in Pembury, which employs around 2,700 staff, is planning to build an additional single deck elevated car park above the northern car park leading to the Tonbridge Road.

The development will create an additional 174 parking spaces for hospital staff.

Currently, the hospital has 447 parking spots for visitors and 818 for staff, but a lack of spaces is resulting in ‘errant parking’ on footpaths and on the hospital’s access road, which risks obstructing ambulances and other traffic.

Nurses and other hospital workers currently have to pay £17.33 per month to park at the hospital, but often struggle to find space, with the Trust admitting staff spend ‘too much time looking for a parking spaces’.

According to plans submitted to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, nearly 70 per cent of staff at the hospital currently use a car to get to work.

While the new car park is being built, these staff members are being asked to park at either Knights Park, more than a mile from the hospital, or at the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood – over six miles away.

The hospital say they will provide a free shuttle bus service from both locations, and have also struck a deal to provide employees with free Arriva bus travel.

Currently, fewer than 5 per cent of staff use public transport to get to work, despite the hospital being served by around 14 buses, and the Trust admit because of working patterns, ‘for many employees the use of a car is essential’.

A spokesperson for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which is also expanding car parking facilities at Maidstone Hospital by 211 places, said: “Planning applications for both sites have been submitted and it is anticipated these additional car parking spaces will be completed by the end of March this year.

 “The Trust has put a number of measures in place to ensure staff can get to and from work as easily as possible whilst the construction work is carried out.

“These include providing staff with a free Park and Ride shuttle bus service from the Hop Farm as well as Knights Park, plus free travel on all direct Arriva buses to Tunbridge Wells Hospital. Staff are also encouraged to car share with colleagues, to catch a train or to cycle or walk to work where possible.”

She added: “A small number of reserved spaces have been set aside in the staff car parking area at Tunbridge Wells Hospital. These are for an agreed list of staff working in specialist areas of our Emergency Department, those who are on call, as well as some members of staff who work late shifts.”

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