Free hospital bus service from St Albans City Hospital to be axed

The free bus service transporting patients and staff between hospitals in south west Hertfordshire is set to be axed as part of a cost-saving move.

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs St Albans City Hospital, has told staff its current financial position means it cannot continue the service.

The trust has urged staff to look at other ways of getting into work such as walking, cycling, car sharing or taking public transport after the service ends at the start of April.

Hospital bosses said the service cost it close to £450,000 a year to run and it had to direct its resources to treating patients.

The trust also announced that as well as the axing of the bus service it would also be increasing the cost of staff parking permits from next month.

The trust currently operates a bus service between its hospital Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans between 6.30am and 8.45pm.

The service is available to patients, carers, staff and visitors.

The trust told staff it had looked at ways of introducing charges for the service, which is provided by the Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust, but said the costs would still be prohibitive.

It said is currently in talks with the bus operators Arriva over permits and reduced rates for staff.

The announcement follows news last week the trust was due to start charging blue badge holders to park at its hospital from April. Currently disabled and long term sick who hold the badge can park at for free.

But trust said it was rescinding the benefit to make sure its parking arrangements were “fair and equitable” to all motorists and not to do with generating more revenue.

Louise Gaffney, Director of Strategy and Infrastructure, said the decision to axe the bus service had not been taken lightly.

She said:  “The free transport service which runs between the three hospital sites, Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans, will be discontinued as from 1 April 2013.

“This inter-site transport service was set up some years ago primarily as an interim support mechanism for staff travelling between sites and costs the Trust in the region of £449,000 per year to run.

“Staff parking charges will also be increased by 0.02% of their annual salary from the end of February.

“These decisions were not made lightly by the trust. However it has a responsibility to ensure its facilities are fair and accessible to all and, in these difficult economic times, that limited resources are directed first and foremost into treating its patients”.

Comments (1)

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6:25pm Tue 29 Jan 13

pheebe says...

It's sad that some staff who work at Watford will have to resign after years of service as they cannot now get to work. Public transport is not an option for some people who finish work at 10pm. They will have to walk from wgh to the town centre in the dark and then get up to three busses home taking around 90 minutes only to have to get up in the morning and do it all again to get to work for 7.30. Remember most of these staff were working at st Albans and Hemel before they were closed and therefore had no choice but to accept the offer of transport to get to work. Typical of this trust. Take everything from the employers and give nothing back. These people are not even eligible for a parking permit !
It's sad that some staff who work at Watford will have to resign after years of service as they cannot now get to work. Public transport is not an option for some people who finish work at 10pm. They will have to walk from wgh to the town centre in the dark and then get up to three busses home taking around 90 minutes only to have to get up in the morning and do it all again to get to work for 7.30. Remember most of these staff were working at st Albans and Hemel before they were closed and therefore had no choice but to accept the offer of transport to get to work. Typical of this trust. Take everything from the employers and give nothing back. These people are not even eligible for a parking permit ! pheebe

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