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Medical centre responds to parking concerns

FROME Medical Centre has responded to concerns raised by local residents about parking issues. 

Photographs were sent to the Frome Times from a concerned user of the medical centre which shows the car park overflowing and causing issues for buses and other vehicles to pass.

Resident Phil Bishop said, “It is now a dire parking situation in the Frome Community Hospital and the Frome Medical Centre car park. The bus has difficulty negotiating the cars and vans parking in the approach road when the actual car park is full. I live quite close to the hospital and walk past quite often and have noticed that this situation is getting worse.”

In response to the concern Dr Tina Merry the senior partner for Frome Medical Practice said, “It should be noted that the Health Park at Enos Way is shared with the Community Hospital. No doubt their views on the photographs showing car park congestion will also be sought.

“From the picture shown to us we are fairly certain that the congestion took place on a day when unfortunately a Christmas Fayre was booked in when a GP training day was already taking place. However, you will appreciate that we were not going to cancel a Christmas Fayre that had been organised for the benefit of a local charity.

“It is accepted however that on some days there is congestion in the car park, but your readers should be made aware of the root of the problem as well as the very active steps that are currently being taken to reduce the parking problem.

“When the Frome Medical Practice originally applied for planning permission, we requested that a realistic number of car parking spaces be allowed to reflect our patient numbers and likely high usage of the new Health Centre. However, this part of the application was rejected by the planning authorities and ever since opening two years ago, we have had to cope with having far fewer car parking spaces than we originally asked for. We really did try to maximise the number of spaces but we also had to conform with the Green Travel Plan approach to car parking numbers.

“This original planning decision has obviously caused us difficulties but we have since been working hard with our patients and others to alleviate the situation. For all the obvious health and environmental reasons we have been working continuously to persuade staff and others to leave their cars at home.

“This has been a big success. Every spring we carry out a travel audit. In April this year 390 patients were interviewed on how they travelled to the Health Centre. The number arriving by car fell from 71% to 46% compared to the previous year. The numbers choosing to walk for their journey nearly doubled and the patients choosing to get the bus more than doubled.

“The successful campaign by our patients to ensure that the Health Park was served by more and better bus services has really paid off. There is now a bus arrivals/departures screen by the cafe in the Health Centre so that patients can wait in the warmth with a drink whilst waiting for their bus. We have also been working hard with our own staff, providing free bicycle maintenance and access to re-charge electric bike batteries to encourage as many as possible to now cycle to work. The survey this year revealed that just 27% of our workforce always used a car to get to work, down from 34% in 2013.

“At times when we know that there are going to be significant extra numbers attending a specific event, we do as much as we can to arrange off-site parking.

“I can only apologise to patients and others who have found difficulty in parking at Enos Way. I realise how frustrating this can be. However, both our patients and visitors can be reassured that we will continue to monitor the situation and where possible do everything that we can to tackle the problem.

“As a practice that promotes Healthy Living, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the increasing numbers of both staff and patients who now choose to leave their cars at home.”