St John’s Medical Centre has closed its car park to the public after frequent accidents and staff being prevented from attending emergency calls.
The car park at the GP surgery off London Road is now for staff use only, with a new barrier installed that has a call system for emergency vehicles, blue badge holders, delivery drivers and taxis.
It follows numerous incidents causing damage to patients’ and staff members’ vehicles, and two weeks after the on-call GP was delayed on their way to an emergency visit, due to a patient parking in the entrance to the car park.
Practice manager Julie Hadlow explained: “After careful consideration into patient safety, emergency access and congestion, the practice decided it would be best to close the car park to the public. There have been a number of incidents where the car park has been congested with cars leading to minor damage to patients’ and staff members’ vehicles.
“On another occasion an on-call GP was blocked in, which could have resulted in emergency care being unnecessarily delayed.
“Patients have the choice of two car parks adjacent and opposite the surgery, which both allow up to two hours of free parking.
“We apologise to our patients for any inconvenience this may cause.”
The practice has kept a log of incidents and already this year a new car has been hit by a delivery van due to congestion, a patient has reversed into the back of another car damaging the bumper, and a patient has knocked over a temporary fence which landed on and caused damage to a car roof.
Last year a pharmacist was blocked in, the door of a staff member’s car was damaged by another door, a patient was trying to manouevre out of a space and bumped three cars in the process, and a patient who misjudged a parking space ended up scraping all down one side of a car.
Further incidents date back to 2013, when a patient reversed into a car, and one car was hit twice.
The car park was designed back in 1994, when the surgery had approximately 8,000 patients. With almost 15,000 patients today, it is struggling to cope with the level of congestion.
However regular patients at the surgery have expressed their dismay at the new arrangements, with many now parking at the retail park and crossing over Station Road East.
Patient Barbara Young, 77, said: “It is terrible for people who have got a disability. I was very surprised when I came last week and the barrier was down. I had to park over the road and walk all the way round, which is not good for someone who has had a new knee.”
Also attending this morning was retired consultant at Grantham Hospital, 84-year-old Lakshmi Chakrabarti. He said: “It is stupid. It is very difficult having to park further away and walk over as I get breathless. And what happens if they introduce parking restrictions at the shops to stop patients parking there?”
The practice highlighted that blue badge holders would still be able to enter the car park using the call system and use the designated space.