BARNSLEY Hospital bosses are investigating worsening parking issues that are causing motorists to queue to access the car park - clogging the main road outside.

The hospital has seen steadily increasing numbers of appointments throughout this year - with numbers of first-time appointments rising to 6,410 in March, the highest point since November’s 6,440.

Waiting lists for non-urgent elective operations and treatment have also continued to dwarf pre-pandemic figures - with the latest NHS statistics showing 17,060 were still waiting at the end of April after being referred.

The number of patients has snowballed this year from 15,863 in March, which was a rise from January’s 14,349 and February’s 14,922.

Old Town Coun Phil Lofts said: “Things eased off during the pandemic for obvious reasons, and it’s got worse since.

“It’s my natural route into town and at key times it’s impassable.

“It’s not only people who use the hospital, it’s drivers who have to get through the mess and residents.

“The TRO means people can access their houses but it’s not the solution, it’s a sticking plaster.

“We have been talking to Barnsley Hospital - I stress it’s not the NHS trust, it’s the estates side of things - and they talk a good game.

“I’ve suggested an extra turning lane as you turn left at the traffic lights from Pogmoor Road, because despite there being signs telling people there’s no spaces available, they just sit and wait there with the obvious effect.

“I have been told it’s under active consideration but at this stage I can’t say any more.”

Residential streets around the Gawber Road site are now subject to traffic regulation orders (TROs) restricting waiting at any time, after frequent reports of Pogmoor and Gawber locals being unable to park near their own homes due to staff and visitors.

Parking charges for hospital staff, patients and visitors were temporarily lifted in April 2020, then reintroduced for the latter two groups in October last year due to the ‘cost of security and maintenance’.

The government announced this April that staff would no longer benefit from the concession.

Barnsley Hospital has sectioned off its car park on the corner of Pogmoor Road and Summer Lane for staff use, and said it had introduced ‘far more flexible’ permits than those pre-pandemic.

Staff on night shifts can continue to park for free, while the hospital’s policy for all motorists is that the first 15 minutes are free.

Earlier this year, plans for a long-awaited park-and-ride scheme re-emerged after a recommendation was put to cabinet by a cross-party group of councillors.

The group met with senior council officers in transport, planning, housing and environment departments to scrutinise how the local authority manages carbon emissions.

Pogmoor councillors have suggested the best solution would be both a western site - serving Penistone and the surrounding area - and an eastern site.

Coun Lofts added: “If we go and ask if we can have a park-and-ride, the council says, ‘yes, where are you going to put it and where are you getting the money from?’

“It’s a good idea to get people out of their cars, in principal.

“I think ultimately we need to look at the hospital moving, to a very convenient place that’s not in the way.

“When it was built, it was on the edge of town - now it’s almost in the middle of town.

“That’s how it is - progress overcomes us.

“I like the idea of moving it to Capitol Park, Dodworth - they’ve already moved some services down there, and into the centre of town.

“It’s local politics - the government has promised 40 new hospitals but we haven’t seen any.

“People need NHS services, but it’s a limited capacity site and that’s where I wish they were somewhere else.

“Unfortunately there’s no magic wand. We know the answers, but we haven’t got the money.”