Hospital bosses in Totnes are planning a car park crackdown just as controversial health service changes look like turning the community hospital into a major health hub.
The town centre hospital is served by a relatively small car park, where drivers often double and even treble park, town councillors have been told.
The decision to close the three community hospitals surrounding Totnes is bound to increase the numbers of patients using the hospital, the councillors were warned.
But town councillor and Totnes Hospital League of Friends member Judy Westacott revealed that the hospital is bringing in people to enforce the car parking rules in the crowded hospital car park.
“People will now be fined if they park there and they haven’t paid,” she told councillors.
Concerns over the size of the car park at the Totnes hospital were raised at a recent meeting of the town council’s people committee.
Committee chairman Tony Whitty told councillors: “At
the moment it’s entirely overcrowded, with double and treble parking.”
He pointed out that, with the planned closures of hospitals at Dartmouth, Paignton, Ashburton and Bovey Tracey, the number of people using the Totnes hospital is bound to increase.
The NHS Clinical Commissioning Group made it clear when it confirmed the closures earlier this year that medical beds will have to be available at either Totnes or Newton Abbot.
The proposals, which are designed to shift local healthcare away from acute hospitals such as Torbay’s and into the community, include turning Totnes Hospital into a “clinical hub”, with medical beds, a minor injuries unit operating 12 hours a day and X-ray facilities operating seven days a week.
District town and county councillor Robert Vint pointed out that the changes mean Totnes Hospital’s catchment area will “effectively be doubled”.
“You will have increased demand,” he added.