Back to the floor - Car parking

I go back to the floor twice a month to find out what it’s like for our patients to be treated here, what it’s like for our staff to work here and to see if there is anything I can do to make it better place for both patients and staff. Our hospitals are enormous places and not all of our staff knows what happens in different departments so part of my blog is also aimed at making it a bit easier to understand for our staff, our governors, our volunteers and anyone else who reads it! I hope my blog gives you a tiny flavour of the fabulousness that I saw!

It was a pretty cold and blustery date in February when I donned my high-vis yellow jacket, put my 2 way radio in my pocket and set off for a shift with Frank our car parking manager. Between the 2 hospitals we have roughly 38 separate intercoms and 180 cameras and around 17 people working as car park hosts/supervisors covering the hospitals day and night. Two of the team came through the ‘Skills for Health’ programme and worked with us for 3 months on an unpaid basis. Frank told me they turned up for work for every shift they were rostered for and now have permanent posts with our hospitals.

Karen Partington car parking 3 Before we set off in the breeze and drizzle I spent a little time in the main office  watching the continuously changing  CCTV screens that support both traffic management and security  in the hospital buildings and outside in the grounds. The phone never stopped ringing, the buzz of the barrier intercoms were a constant interruption and it was a relief to get out into the open air and the relative peace and quiet of helicopters landing and ambulance sirens blaring!

We went out around lunchtime and it was incredibly busy; we saw the same cars circling the site to try and find somewhere to park. As we walked round the grounds people stuck in queues were calling to us for help, guidance and advice. All were remarkably pleasant and good natured, even though they were concerned that they might miss their appointment slot. Unfortunately earlier that day one of our parking attendants had been hit by a car and although wasn’t injured had been shaken up by the incident. Our teams are there to help wherever they can and they are passionate and committed to customer care. They often work in very trying circumstances and deal with aggressive customers so they operate zero tolerance in relation to any forms of verbal and/or physical abuse. I didn’t witness any issues but they told me about incidents that had occurred in the past. It was hard to believe that normally rational folk would behave in like that. These aren’t easy jobs!

We patrolled the car park grounds to make sure cars were not illegally parked and really importantly to make sure that any emergency vehicles could get to where they needed to at any time. We also checked parking permits in windscreens to ensure they were parked in the designated place and on the day I did my shift we found a member of staff parked in a hatched area and another parked in a disabled bay. I know how frustrating it is for staff to be unable to park in order to come on duty and in desperation they will park anywhere however neither of these infringements are acceptable for reasons you don’t need me to explain!

Karen Partington Car Parking 1 The car parking team have a wide range of responsibilities from enforcing parking rules with parking charge notices, patrolling car park grounds to ensure car security to equipment house-keeping such as cleaning coin flight decks and checks on barriers / pay-stations and pay & display machines.

Car parking is an emotive area (that could be classed as an understatement!) but did you know:

  • We were awarded the Which Reports’ Best Hospital Car Park a couple of years ago for our approach to managing the needs of our patient group through high quality car park provision. We now need to build on that and improve the current situation for staff, patients and visitors.
  • We have just reinstated 20 car park spaces following the completion of the vascular theatres
  • We have an active Traffic and Transport Strategy Management Group in which Divisions are represented by their staff side reps and Governors. Feedback on the discussions are available through news bulletins and the team brief
  • There was a workshop on Wednesday that reviewed the criteria for parking on the hospital sites. Representatives from all Divisions and Corporate services were invited. We had circa 40 colleagues discuss a wide range of topics. The strategy group are collating the information and will feedback over the next couple of months.
  • We are in regular contact with our neighbours, dropping in at weekend councillor surgeries. We want to listen and act on local resident concerns which mostly involve issues about our staff parking outside their homes and we are working with them to find solutions.

Car parking problems and finding solutions matter very much to Frank and his colleagues. I was very impressed with their obvious concern and attitude to everyone they came into contact with.  To those who were rude or unpleasant I witnessed nothing less than extreme professionalism from them. Now I’ve probably made them sound like saints and I’m sure they would be the first to agree that they might not always be …however I would ask that we all remember that it’s not their fault when there’s nowhere to park and to recognise that they are doing all they can to help us.

So Frank and Co, thank you all for your kindness and patience …..and the loan of a warm coat under that ruddy high viz jacket!