New system to protect parking for patients at Townlands Memorial Hospital

Townlands Memorial Hospital

by Alex Cameron

A free new parking management system is being brought in at Townlands Memorial Hospital to reduce inappropriate use of the car park and maintain free access for patients, staff and visitors.

The new system uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, which aims to ensure parking spaces are protected for patients and staff accessing health services on the site.

Easy to use, the system only requires patients and visitors to input their car registration details into a touch pad located in the main reception area of the hospital.

The car park for patients at the front of the hospital. Visitors and patients will need to enter their registration details at a touch pad in the main hospital reception when parking here from 10 April.

The system is due to be brought into use on 10 April 2017 with infrastructure and signage being installed the week before.

Mark Harrison, Senior FM Business Manager at NHS Property Services, said: “We know patients, visitors and staff have experienced significant difficulties in parking on the site at certain times of the day, due to some motorists misusing the limited parking there.

“At times, this has meant patients have been forced to park off-site and negotiate the steep slope to get to the hospital, which is particularly difficult for those with mobility problems.

“We are committed to making it as easy as possible for patients and visitors to access and use hospital services and hope the new ANPR system will discourage those motorists who should not be using the car park.”

The new system has been arranged by NHS Property Services with support from Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. The infrastructure and management of the system will be carried out by Smart Parking.

Overall parking provision at the site has increased as part of the new hospital development with a further 35 spaces available for staff to make a total of 70 – up from the previous allocation of approximately 40.

The new system will involve all motorists entering the site from York Road and leaving via Clarence Road.

How the system works

Patients/hospital visitors

  • As motorists enter the hospital site from York Road, their number plate is scanned by an ANPR camera and logged by the Smart Parking computer system.
  • They park in one of the 35 allocated patient parking spaces located in front of the main hospital building.
  • Clear signage will direct motorists to the main reception desk where they enter the number plate of their vehicle on a user-friendly touch pad (like an iPad). This will be hand held and located behind reception.
  • This tells the ANPR system that the vehicle belongs to a legitimate visitor to the hospital and no further action is needed.
  • Reception staff will be encouraged to remind patients and visitors to enter their number plate to avoid a fine.
  • Number plates are scanned by a second ANPR camera as they leave the site to register their departure.

Blue Badge Holders

  • Six of the 35 patient spaces are allocated for blue badge holders, who must also enter their number plate into the touch pad at the hospital reception.
  • Inspections will be made of the spaces to check these six spaces are not being used by non-blue badge holders.

Drop off and collection

  • There is a 20-minute grace period for motorists who are dropping-off or collecting hospital visitors meaning they would not need to enter details on the touchpad.

Unauthorised parking

  • As long as motorists follow the above rules, the Smart Parking system will recognise patients, staff and neighbours (as detailed above) as legitimate, authorised users of the car park.
  • Motorists who are not authorised to park on the hospital site will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £100, reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days of issue.

The Bell and Hart surgeries are also set to implement a separate but similar ANPR system for their car park. Although NHS Property Services is working with the practices on implementing the schemes, the practices have a separate contract with Smart Parking, a separate touch pad and are managing communications separately.

The York Road approach to the hospital, where vehicles enter the site

However, it is important to note that one car park cannot be used as overspill for the other – i.e, if a patient cannot find a space at the surgery car park, they will not be able to park in the hospital car park, and vice versa, and will need to find alternative provision.

Chilterns Court Care Centre, located next to Townlands Memorial Hospital and owned by The Orders of St John Care Trust, has 22 separate parking spaces on its site. The care centre’s separate system will have its own signage, a separate ‘white list’ for staff and a touch pad at its reception for visitors.

Each household in York Road and Clarence Road has been invited to apply for a permit to park one nominated vehicle in the designated hospital parking area out of hours.