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Can hospital parking be a collaborative solution?

The need to charge people for parking whilst they or their relatives are ill remains a very emotive issue, both with the public and at a political level. Which has meant the management of hospital parking facilities has threatened to become a whole new type of job, with the need for facilities management combined with press and public relations skills. It’s certainly a unique beast in the parking world.

With such a complex and potentially sensitive mix of requirements it is perhaps unsurprising that, when considering its parking options, a hospital cannot be blamed if its instinct is to outsource the whole thing and let others deal with the challenges of increasingly high demand, insufficient capacity, short and long stays, staff requirements and 24-hour use.

Turning to the marketplace to gain the latest thinking, employ the latest technology and to solve unusual challenges is a normal and natural thing for a facilities or operations manager to do. So, when a car park requires management of:

  • a fair way of charging for time spent in it,
  • split use with public and staff,
  • enforcement of the rules,
  • directions supplied on where spaces can be found

and perhaps half an eye on future needs such as applications for remote visibility and booking, then there is a legitimate question to ask if any one company can do all of this.

For NHS organisations, there are set out NHS patient, visitor and staff car parking principles around contracted-out car parking. These state that:

  • NHS organisations are responsible for the actions of private contractors who run car parks on their behalf.
  • NHS organisations should act against rogue contractors in line with the relevant codes of practice where applicable.
  • Contracts should not be let on any basis that incentivises additional charges, e.g. ‘income from parking charge notices only’.

Some third-party operators will claim they can do everything you need. And maybe they can. It’s certainly the easiest decision to go with a company claiming this. But it’s worth putting these operators under the microscope to understand if any of the services are just bolt-ons that the company are using.

In assessing (or re-assessing) a potential parking partner, the basics of supplier procurement should kick in. Setting out a realistic brief, looking at previous experience, referencing or visiting case studies, background checks, providing question and answer sessions, looking for SLAs and engaging in feedback and ongoing reviews. All of which should provide a level of understanding of how a future partnership would work.

But with the unique and diverse nature of hospital parking demands we would question if it is reasonable to expect one supplier to have all the answers. Sure, appoint a lead supplier to run the facility and allow for a simplified procurement set up, but perhaps be ready to consider a consortium of suppliers that are happy to work together to utilise strengths and ensure best practice on the contract.

We raise the issue of using multiple supplier solutions because we have come across examples of tender or supplier agreements that try and cover every base. The feedback we are hearing is that these have led to operational challenges where a supplier has won the contract and then tried to do everything as a single solution behind closed doors. Anecdotally clients are telling us that the reality falls far short of the early promises and gaps in performance or promised capability start to appear. Over time these gaps widen as it becomes clear that these single organisation do not have the breadth of expertise or bandwidth to cover the gamut of requirements of the client’s day to day demands or the ability to flex and adapt to potentially changing requirements.

Here at Clearview we don’t claim to have the answers to all the parking questions. Indeed, we do not deal with enforcement at all. But we have built a business through co-operation, collaboration and joint partnerships with others and we recognise where our strengths are as well as those of our partners. Our in-house developed parking systems can help in managing car parks through real-time usage intelligence feeding directional signage, helping users find spaces as fast and as quickly as possible.

Perhaps there will always be the need for payment and enforcement in NHS car parks but coupled with providing users with a better, easier and more pleasant parking experience we believe that the stress in hospital parking can be reduced. And working with and alongside other suppliers in a collaborative fashion to create the best solution possible means everyone can benefit and there is less risk of failure for the client.

Contact us to discuss how we can help improve your parking experience.

Author: Andrew R |Date Published: December 2017

Links: Parking

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