Health board agrees to meet car park campaigner for talks

Mr Cottrell at the health centre. Pics by George McLuskie
Mr Cottrell at the health centre. Pics by George McLuskie

The man behind the latest campaign for improved parking at Kirkcaldy’s main health centre is calling for a face-to-face meeting with health chiefs.

Chic Cottrell, who raised the issue this time around, has been inundated with people supporting his call for more parking for patients of Kirkcaldy Health Centre’s three GP practices at Whyteman’s Brae to end the “nightmare” parking scenario faced every day.

Cars circle the car park looking for a space

Cars circle the car park looking for a space

And he says he would like to meet the chief executive of NHS Fife to discuss the problems he and other patients of the health centre have experienced, as well as ideas for possible solutions.

“The response since I raised this on social media has been amazing,” he told the Press.

“Dozens of people have contacted me by email, on social media or in the street saying they totally agree with me and that something needs to be done about this.

“I’ve not had one person say anything against it.

Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart

“I’ve been approached by patients and staff from the health centre, local residents, people who work at the hospital and district nurses from the health centre too.

“People have told me that they would be happy to pay £1 or so to park in the car park.

“I think the NHS missed the boat when it built the hospital extension.

“It should have built a multi-storey car park at the same time with access for disabled patients.

“I spoke to some community nurses who go out and about to patients from the health centre and they say that when they come back to collect their medicines from the pharmacy they can’t get parked and are having to waste time walking quite a distance from their cars, which means they are not able to see as many patients.

“Along with people missing appointments with their doctor there must be lots of hidden costs to the NHS.

“There are bits of land they could be looking at for additional parking, or they could run a bus shuttle service between the various car parks to encourage hospital staff to use the overflow car park at the top of Whyteman’s Brae to leave spaces at the health centre for those who really need it.

“These are all things I would like to sit down to discuss with someone in charge face-to-face.”

Andrew Fairgreive, director of estates, facilities, and capital development with NHS Fife, said: “Security staff regularly patrol our car parks to ensure responsible parking by patients, visitors and staff.

“We continue to monitor the availability of spaces around the Victoria Hospital site generally and we are aware of the issues patients can sometimes experience at peak times.

“As such, we also actively encourage our staff to park in our allocated staff car parks across the site or adopt other forms of transport to work including car sharing schemes and public transport.

“If anyone has concerns around illegally parked vehicles they should contact NHS Fife security on Tel: 01592 643355 EXT 28888. I would be happy to meet Mr Cottrell to discuss his concerns.”

One man who is no stranger to parking problems at NHS Fife is Dave Stewart, former chairman of acute services, who retired in 2013.

“Parking was a problem back then and it is still just as bad five years on,” he told the Press.

“Initially the whole car park at the health centre was reserved for patients and staff in that building,” he said.

“As well as all the patients from the GP surgeries and staff there are district nurses working from upstairs in the building, so there are more than enough people to fill the car park with them alone.

“After I left the bosses decided that because the health centre car park was an NHS one then it was for all NHS staff which turned it into a free for all.

“I got involved because I saw the chaos first hand and along with the practice managers I organised a petition.

“We managed to negotiate 34 spaces for the health centre staff and patients and this is obviously not enough as the chaos is continuing, but we were hitting our heads off a brick wall asking for more.

“The overflow car park at Whyteman’s Brae was quite empty at that time but now there are more patients it has hit capacity.

“I usually park there when I go to my GP but some people aren’t able to walk that far.

“My long-term solution would be to lease some of the land at Forbo Nairn for ten years for parking to extend the car parks at the hospital and return all the parking at the health centre back to patients and staff.

“A multi-storey car park would not have worked as it would have had to be PFI and we would have been paying for it for years.

“Multi storeys cost five times as much to build, and there would have been huge neighbour objections to one.

“Another very important reason was that nurses did not like the idea of coming out at night and having to go to a multi-storey for safety reasons.”

“I’m sure there was a shuttle bus at one point but I don’t know how long that lasted.

“It’s all comes back to money and the demand for services exceeds the cash to provide them.”

Cllr David Graham, Fife Council’s spokesman for health and social care, said: “I’m concerned to hear that the patients of Kirkcaldy Health Centre are having problems parking in the health centre car park due to heavy usuage by others outwith the health centre.

“Parking is a huge issue in this area and has been for a number of years.

“I have recently asked the Chief Executive of NHS Fife, Paul Hawkins, to look at the issue in more detail to see what can be done.

“I would hope that work could be done between the health centre and NHS Fife to come to a solution to help resolve the situation for all concerned.”