Rethink call on Aberdeen hospital’s disabled children access

MSP Lewis Macdonald outside RACH

NHS Grampian’s flagship £10million car park has come under fire from concerned parents of disabled youngsters who believe it is adding to the stress of hospital visits.

Mums and dads have found themselves displaced from convenient parking near to the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital (RACH). Moved to the Lady Helen Parking Centre, some have found its entrance is too small for wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Others have struggled with shuttle bus services on the hospital site as the vehicles provided have proved unsuitable for wheelchairs.

While the Lady Helen Parking Centre was under construction, mums and dads of children attending the hospital were able to park their vehicles closer to the hospital’s front doors, in a small car park opposite the Maggie’s Centre.

That car park has now been restricted to staff only – leaving parents who don’t arrive early enough for other spaces at RACH with few options but to park at the new parking centre.

Jill Cameron, from Aberdeen, whose four-year-old Harris has additional support needs and requires a wheelchair, said the new car park is proving to be problematic for families like hers.

She said: “Many of the families I know who also have children with additional support needs have wheelchair accessible vehicles that are like big vans, and some of them are so big they can’t even fit into the multi-storey car park because of the height restrictions.

“If you are able to park, it adds an extra 10 minutes onto your walk to the children’s hospital and you run the risk of getting soaking wet.

“The shuttle bus not being accessible to wheelchairs is just shocking.

“There needs to be a re-think of the facilities they are giving us.”

North-east MSP Lewis Macdonald said the health board’s shuttle bus services should be accessible to everyone.

He said: “NHS Grampian has five shuttle buses in Aberdeen, which provide a really valuable service to patients and staff.

“It would clearly be useful if at least one of these was accessible for wheelchair users to address issues for those unable to park at the door.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: “We’re really sorry to hear some families are struggling with access.

“We would always encourage those patients and visitors who are able to use the multi-storey car park, leaving spaces close to entrances and exits available to those with mobility issues.

“We would encourage anyone with concerns about this matter, or any of our services, to get in touch with our feedback service.”