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Access and travel

Reducing traffic congestion

The hospital operates within one of the most congested conurbations in the UK. This planning application can't solve all the traffic issues, but the NHS is leading the way in promoting alternatives to single occupancy car journeys.

The Trust Sustainable Travel Plan and healthy travel options will provide:

  • Personal health benefits by more walking and cycling
  • Improved air quality for all, by reduced car journeys
  • Less carbon, to reduce global warming
  • Public transport expansion
  • Easy access to the site for emergency vehicles
  • Less congestion and reduced stress
  • Reduce the need to travel to the hospital at all, by changing how services are delivered
  • Reduced cost for sustainable travel to make it even more attractive

Changing how our services are delivered is part of the Dorset CCG's review of clinical service across Dorset. Practical examples about how this has started, and how it will develop ahead of the 2024 opening of MCEC include:

  • The greater use of technology including more video consultations. This has increased hugely in response to Covid-19. The target is one third of the 300,000 hospital outpatient appointments could be delivered in this way on a permanent basis.
  • Some "office hours" services are moving off site, so will reduce the journeys to the hospital significantly, especially during rush hour. This includes over 80,000 operations that will move to Poole Hospital.
  • Over 60,000 GP requested blood tests have recently moved back into community settings, much closer to where patients live.
  • Subject to consultation and approval, community facing services that do not need to be on an acute hospital site can also move, such as outpatient physiotherapy, Orthodontics (dental), and Prosthetics. This could reduce trips to hospital during Monday-Friday “office hours” by more than 100,000 a year.
  • Many supporting roles are now carried out by working remotely, enabling a reduction of staff on site. Across Bournemouth and Poole there are regularly 400 staff working from home, (up from 30-40 pre-Covid). Once again these reduce traffic during peak hours.

video consultations

Clinicians across Dorset have led the way with virtual consultations

All these improvements are being taken forwards as part of the plans for future working practice in the Trust, and fit in with the environmental and sustainability plan.

Traffic and transport modelling has been undertaken. This shows that hospital traffic during peak network hours would reduce due to the change to more 24/7 services and the travel plan actions.

A future barrier controlled connection to the Wessex Way A338 via Wessex Fields would be of additional benefit, especially for ambulances. However this is not essential for this application. The hospital will continue to be primarily accessed via Deansleigh Road. The hospital remains supportive of developing the barrier controlled junction as this would provide a second route for ambulances, delivery vehicles and staff with permits, which is beneficial for cutting congestion without increasing traffic volumes (as these are vehicles already controlled and permitted on site).

Cutting congestion around the RBH site will be achieved by:

  1. Changes in service delivery
  2. Promotion of healthy and sustainable travel like cycling
  3. Services moving closer to patient's home
  4. Increased use of technology
  5. Work from home for staff where this is possible
  6. Over £1m of direct investment from the NHS into bus services, cycle lanes and staff changing facilities, if the overall scheme gains approval.

Buses, taxis and drop off areas

There will be an improved road layout with improved cycle access, priority for pedestrians and those arriving and leaving by bus. Drop off areas and the taxi rank will be better located.

An express bus between Royal Bournemouth and Poole hospitals will be set up, ahead of the transfer of services between sites. This would be open for staff and public travelling between sites. Working with the Council, Bournemouth University and other partners to design and procure this service and improving other routes will be a high priority.

Bus travel between sites is expected to be more reliable and quicker than driving and parking. It will also be cheaper and produce less carbon. Additionally, Wi-Fi on the bus will allow better use of time for work or leisure, than car travel.

hospital front

The front of the hospital will have better access to the bus hub and bike park facilities

This will be a major investment by the NHS. Evidence of local success is Bournemouth University, who have successfully grown bus routes on its "Uni bus" service. The Trust will also work with the Council to support the Transforming Cities Fund project.

The NHS is also improving transport for patients. The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has a very successful patient taxi service, which provides a door to door service for over 500 patients a month. This involves 'ride sharing' for up to a quarter of these journeys, reducing congestion and the carbon footprint.

Drop off zones around the many entrance points to the hospital will ensure ease of access for frail, disabled and other patients and visitors whilst the driver parks (or leaves the site). The taxi rank will be relocated nearer the main entrance, also improving access.

Active travel

cycle paths

Increasing cycle paths on site and improving pedestrian access and safety

Existing facilities on the Bournemouth site consist of 10 locations with shower and change facilities including lockers and a free towel service. 440 cycle storage spaces, cycle repair tools, loan bikes (including electric), access to Beryl bikes, salary sacrifice and "try before you buy" schemes.

Proposed additional facilities within this application, besides the increase in bike storage, include new shower areas and 300 new locker spaces as well as new loan bikes and maintenance. A dedicated Transport and Travel Manager has been appointed.

Total investment towards improving facilities for active travel exceeds £1m of NHS funds. This is a massive contribution to sustainable and active travel by a public organisation using public funds. The Trust already has a high percentage of staff travelling sustainably. This extra commitment will put the hospital at the forefront of organisations locally, which show demonstrable support for active and sustainable travel.

The additional sustainable travel benefits can only be funded if planning permission is agreed, and the projects proceed. The details of each of these schemes will be developed within the reserved matters applications and ahead of the 2024 MCEC opening.

cyclinglockers

Increase in staff cycle parking and facilities such as showers and lockers

Changing the pattern of car use

Whilst all efforts are being made to encourage sustainable travel, some patients, visitors and staff will still need to arrive by car. Disabled, frail, and vulnerable patients and visitors need to have good access, if they have to attend the hospital.

Many staff, especially staff with specialist skills, often have careers across Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. To attract and retain the best staff having the ability to get to and from the hospital is critical. For some this does mean the ability to drive. This is especially the case for staff working 12 hour shifts, overnight, or on call. Therefore a realistic number of car parking spaces are required.

The loss of over 400 surface car parking spaces for the MCEC and plaza areas is re-provided in the multi-storey car park extension.

Originally a second multi-storey car park was planned to be built near the new entrance, but based on Council Officer feedback the plans have been changed to provide a new combined staff and visitor multi-storey car park near the back of the hospital. The design and positioning of the car park will be to reduce the visual impact from both the hospital and the Wessex Way.

There will be an increase in electric charging points to support the move to electric cars. A staff incentive scheme also exists to encourage a shift to electric cars.

The changes in the type of services on site, and the move of activity to community settings, Poole and Christchurch hospitals and online appointments, means the pattern of car park use will vary, with less Monday-Friday daytime patient journeys expected. Overall the same number of patient and visitor car parking spaces will be maintained as a minimum, and will be adjusted upwards if required.

car park front

Front view of the extension to the multi-storey car park

The Travel Plan will reduce staff making single car occupancy vehicle trips to/from the site. The targets are another 1% walking, 2% cycling, 6% travelling by public transport and car sharing rising by 4%. These targets correlate with the measures and initiatives proposed for each mode of travel. The shift to sustainable modes would result in a 13 percentage point reduction in single car occupancy trips made by staff during peak hours. This will reduce congestion and queues around the hospital site. In addition the Trust is investing heavily in the equipment and systems to support off site/home working, so we can achieve, or exceed, this stretching target.

The new clinical services coming into the MCEC will be operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are more staff intensive; therefore there will be more staff on site. However these staff will predominantly be working different patterns to the elective and outpatient services that are moving off site. The emergency, critical care, inpatient maternity and inpatient children’s services will be:

  • Working seven days a week, 24 hours a day, so the extra staff are more spread out over the full week
  • On shifts with different start and finish times, mainly 7am and 7pm, so less travel during peak hours.

As a result peak hour travel by car is predicted to reduce. Some staff and patients will be using the shuttle bus from Poole Hospital.

The longer shifts (more 12 hour shifts than the current 5 days, 7.5 hours) means less journeys, especially during peak hours. However it does mean more car parking is required because when staff are on site they are staying for longer. Therefore there is a net increase in 443 spaces for staff and volunteers planned. The exact balance in use of total car park spaces between patients/visitors and staff/volunteers will be under constant review to ensure patients can park.

There is already a rigorous staff car parking permit scheme in place. Staff already have to pay to park, on average over £30 per month. The exact amount depends on salary. Many staff if they live within three miles of the hospital, or on a bus route, are very unlikely to be considered for a permit, even if they wish to pay. Through this control mechanism the number of staff car parking spaces is already controlled very tightly. This gives confidence that any necessary changes to staff parking numbers can be regularly made to keep the site functioning and patients able to park.

The multi-storey car park extension will be higher than the existing car park, but is set further back from the A338 Wessex Way, behind a thicker tree belt. Therefore this is less visible from the road. For the detailed planning application the exact external materials and designs will be agreed to ensure an appropriate exterior.

car park rear

Rear view of multi-storey car park from A338, based on proposed design