Hospital patients fear traffic jam crisis during Olympics
PUBLISHED: 13:08 01 March 2012 | UPDATED: 13:58 01 March 2012
Seriously ill patients could miss vital hospital appointments stuck in traffic jams as VIPs and athletes whizz past in specially designated fast car lanes during this summer’s Olympics, healthcare providers have warned.
Olympics bosses have been accused of endangering people’s health by refusing to allow vehicles taking sick residents to Homerton Hospital to use either bus lanes or Games lanes when congestion hits its peak.
The Games lanes will be reserved for athletes, officials and sponsors, including Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, during the Olympics and Paralympics as part of the Olympic Route Network (ORN).
Ambulances using blue lights will be able use them, but non-emergency vehicles will not.
Homerton Road, next to Homerton Hospital, has been marked as a ‘‘red route’’ – among the busiest and most restricted in London.
Medical Services, an independent firm that transports NHS patients to the Homerton, says it fears the seriously ill, including those scheduled for cancer surgery or kidney dialysis, will be trapped in traffic.
Leah Bevington, head of communication, expressed astonishment that the company’s request to use bus lanes had been refused.
“It will probably mean there will be missed appointments and patients will be upset.”
A spokeswoman for Transport for London (TfL) said: “It is necessary to ensure we can get all athletes, officials and the media to their events on time and we keep London moving.”
She said TfL was working with NHS London and healthcare providers to ensure they planned ahead and operated effectively during the Games.
“We’re confident that by working with us and planning ahead, they can get patients and vital medical supplies where and when they need to be.”
A spokeswoman for Homerton Hospital said: “We continue our Olympic planning to ensure that services for patients are not affected during the Olympic Games, this includes transport links to and from the hospital for staff and patients.”