At the public meeting today 29 January, the Trust Board of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) approved the introduction of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology across its three main hospital sites to try and alleviate some of the problems staff and visitors encounter when trying to find parking spaces.
Foluke Ajayi, Chief Operating Officer, UHMBT, said: “We know that car parking at our hospitals is not easy for patients, visitors or staff. Basically, we do not have enough spaces for the numbers of people who want to park on our sites.
“We have been working to improve the situation, including creating a small number of additional spaces at Westmorland General Hospital, gaining planning permission for a new multi-storey staff car park to be built on the site of the current staff car park behind Medical Unit Two at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and investigating schemes to create additional spaces at Furness General Hospital.
“Whilst the introduction of ANPR will not create any additional spaces, it will help deter people from abusing the current situation by paying for a pay and display ticket and then leaving their car for a long period of time, or not paying at all to park on Trust premises.
“We are aware that this move may be controversial we have put things in place to mitigate the risk of any issues other locations using ANPR may have experienced such as:
- 30 minutes ‘free parking’ to ensure people aren’t charged when they can’t find a space or are dropping someone off
- All parking will be pay on exit as per NHS national guidance so that you only pay for what you’ve used. It also reduces the anxiety patients often have about getting a ticket if their appointment runs over
- An increased number of short stay and drop-off bays around our Emergency Departments, main entrances and Outpatients to increase public access
- The installation of a terminal within our Mortuaries to enable bereaved relatives to enter registration details and receive free parking
- A three working day internal appeal process which allows staff or visitors with extenuating circumstances to have parking notices rescinded prior to formal Parking Control Notice being issued by the contractor
“We are also aware of the reports from the Government to ensure that Blue Badge holders and frequent users of the car parking sites will be provided with free parking, and we are still awaiting the Government guidance on this. We will, of course, ensure that this guidance is implemented once we have received it.
“Alongside the introduction of ANPR, our Trust Board also approved changes to our current staff permit price structure. This means that 63% of staff who currently pay for a staff parking permit will actually pay less each month whilst the remainder of staff – who are on higher Agenda for Change bands – will pay an increased amount.
“These changes to the amount staff pay for their parking permits will not only bring costs into line with other NHS organisations but also gain an additional £200,000 in income, which will go towards the Trust’s overall cost saving target.
“We apologise for the issues people face when parking – we know it is difficult on all our sites and we’ll continue to take actions to alleviate the situation where we can.”