Parents hit out at Belfast children's hospital parking chaos
An angry parent has told of his frustration after queuing for an hour-and-a-half for a parking space at a local hospital.
Several people contacted the Belfast Telegraph yesterday to complain of long waits to access the designated car park at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
One man, who waited 90 minutes in the queue, said that to ensure his daughter did not miss her appointment, he had to place her into a wheelchair while waiting in the filter lane.
"I had to get my child physically out in the road. Any car could have been coming the other way. It's dangerous," he said.
"My other half then took her into the hospital.
"My daughter's eight years old, she's had major surgery and the top of her legs have been rebuilt. She was there to see a consultant."
The man. who did not wish to be named, said that when he eventually got into the car park he had to wait a further 15 minutes for a disabled space to become available.
"As a parent of a disabled child I just feel we've been treated like second-class citizens," he said.
He added that there was a vehicle parked in a disabled space without a blue badge.
When he raised this with a staff member, he was told "there was nothing" that could be done to stop it.
"It's an absolute joke," he added.
When we visited the hospital at 11am yesterday there were around 12 cars in the queue, with vehicles only gaining access once another had exited.
Another parent, mum-of-three Nichola Donnelly from Coalisland, said she was visiting the hospital two weeks after long queues meant that she missed an appointment for her five-year-old daughter.
She explained: "Her appointment then was at noon, and 15 minutes before it I was still queuing, so I phoned the hospital and they told me that there was no point, as the appointment couldn't be moved. Today's the rescheduled appointment. At 10am I was on the motorway and got here at 10.30. It's now 11.30 and we're still queuing."
The 30-year-old, a regular visitor to the hospital, said the problem had gotten worse over time.
"It's awful. I'm here all the time and normally it's a 50-minute wait, now its way past an hour," she added.
Another mother, who did not wish to be named, said she had brought her young son to the hospital on the advice of her GP, and had been waiting for almost an hour.
She explained: "My son's had chickenpox since last Thursday and has a temperature that's not going away.
"My GP told me to come here and we've been waiting 45 minutes. He's sick as a dog... this is a disgrace."
The Belfast Trust yesterday apologised to Children's Hospital visitors who have experienced delays.
The trust admitted there has been an "ongoing" issue at peak times.
Advising visitors to "allow plenty of time for their appointments", it said it had staff redirecting vehicles stuck in queues to other car parks within the site, including its main visitors' car park.
The trust added additional disabled parking bays can be found adjacent to the Children's Hospital.
It said: "Unfortunately, congestion on the Royal Hospital site at peak times is an ongoing issue.
"In the longer term the trust will improve car parking provision as part of the development of the new maternity and children's hospitals."