Transport and access to the new hospital are frequently raised questions. The Trust is working closely with local public transport providers and local councils. There are varied levels of access to the proposed site during the day from different parts of Sandwell and the heart of Birmingham, with a general lack of direct or evening public transport.
Site audits have also shown cycling facilities are not adequate, there are car parking pressures at certain locations, and a lack of signage and travel information at some sites.
The Right Care Right Here partnership is developing a transport and access strategy which has the aim to:
“Develop and implement a range of transport options, through partnership working, which offer a choice of easy, convenient access to health services and facilities for patients, visitors and staff. These will be sustainable, will promote healthy lifestyles and facilitate effective transport for patient–related services.”
Amongst its aims, the group wants to ensure that every site is accessible by reliable, affordable and convenient public transport throughout operating hours in a safe and straightforward way, and ensure an access to quality information and infrastructure for cyclists and users of other sustainable transport.
Public transport is particularly important as approximately 38% of households in the area do not have access to a car (information collected from Census 2001). The highest numbers of households with no access to a car are concentrated around the Birmingham Treatment Centre, Newtown, Tipton Great Bridge and West Bromwich health centres.
The Group has set an ambitious range of targets. Some of the highlights include:
- At least 90% of people within the RCRH area will be able to access the new facilities (including acute hospital, community hospitals, outpatient and diagnostic centres and care centres) by public transport within 30 minutes.
- At least 55% of people within the RCRH area will be able to access the new facilities by direct public transport within 30 minutes.
- At least 95% of people within the RCRH area will be able to access their Primary and Neighbourhood Centre by direct public transport within 30 minutes.
There are also plans around cycling and car sharing for staff.
Other factors being considered are the use of shuttle buses between sites for patients and visitors, planning transport services around clinic times to include options for late finishing and weekend working, booking appointment times for bus users with free bus passes after 10am, ways to encourage sustainable travel methods, whether faster transport routes could be introduced to the new hospital, use technology to reduce need for travel, consider different staff working patterns.
Cycling facilities on the existing hospital sites are already due to improve following a cash injection as a result of Listening into Action sessions. Other changes to the public transport infrastructure will take longer and will come on stream as facilities open.