Hospital parking proposal enrages

by Aisling Kennedy

PLANS for the new National Children’s Hospital are generating anger this week as the planners made it clear to the ongoing Bord Pleanala oral hearing that outpatients would be encouraged to arrive to the hospital using public transport rather than using the public car park facilities.
A total of 675 public parking spaces will be available to the public at the new children’s hospital and these will be used to cater for families and visitors of the 120,000 urgent care cases expected to be dealt with annually when the hospital is built.
There will also be fewer car parking facilities available for staff at the hospital with less than a fifth of spaces for the projected 5,000 staff, including the 3,000 core staff who currently work at St James’s hospital and the additional 2,000 extra staff who will work at the new hospital.
The proposed plans for the hospital will involve a total of 880 staff car parking spaces being available campus wide.
Staff currently do not have to pay to park in designated staff parking areas at the hospital but the current planners say there will be a fee to park in the staff car park once the facility is built.
This will be done in an attempt to encourage hospital staff to take other means of transport to work everyday.
Jonathan Irwin, chief executive of the Jack and Jill foundation, has campaigned tirelessly against the construction of the new National Children’s Hospital at the St James’s hospital site.
He believes there are better sites available for the new facility closer to commuter belts such as the M50 and that provide more space for construction and parking.
Irwin spoke to the Gazette and said: “Personally, I have always thought St James’s is a disaster. It is in a dreadful location, with woeful parking and worse access for patients and families. Plus, there is no room for expansion. The campus also sadly has a poor anti-social record.”
Irwin, who is due to speak at the Bord Pleanala oral hearing this week, said the issue of car parking for staff was “a bizarre situation”.
Deputy Aengus O Snodaigh (SF) told the Gazette that he did not think the allocated parking spaces at the hospital would suffice.
“I don’t think it’s enough, I think it’s going to severely impact on the neighbourhood around the hospital and it is already at breaking point. The planners are also putting a lot of faith in staff leaving their cars at home and travelling by Luas.
“This is a children’s hospital so the patients cannot make their own way there as they are children. So some form of transport will be needed for each of these patients and I find it difficult to see how this will be managed. “
Cllr Paul Hand (Ind) also spoke out against the lack of car park spaces for outpatients calling it a “disappointing” move.
He said: “Although the area is well served by public transport, there are so many cases where it is not possible for patients to use it, such as in the case of an infectious disease, a disability or injury that limits their movement.”
In response to the concerns, a statement from the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board said: “Families of sick children and young people are not expected to take public transport – there are 675 planned car parking spaces.
“These spaces can be pre-booked in advance in order to further facilitate the arrival of parents. In addition, there is an emergency car park set-down area designed to serve the emergency department only.
“This is almost three times the number of spaces when compared with what is currently available in the existing three hospitals combined; currently, 230 parking spaces are provided for families.”

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