A leading Dartmouth doctor has hailed the pedestrian access to the town’s new £4.8 million health and wellbeing centre as ‘dangerous’.
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust bowed to pressure to create a second entry onto the site from the A3122, to cater for patients arriving by bus.
But parents arriving by public transport pushing a pram or buggy, or anyone in a wheelchair, will first have to navigate three concrete steps followed by a gravelled pathway to reach the state-of-the-art medical centre.
Professor Andrew Eynon-Lewis of Dartmouth Medical Practice said he couldn’t “believe it” when he saw the steps, adding: “It’s dangerous to a certain extent, and not in any way practical for people with buggies, which is disappointing.”
Anyone arriving by bus who cannot navigate the steps will have to walk back up to the roundabout, past the leisure centre and through the both the park-and-ride and overflow car parks to reach the health centre’s main entrance – a distance of nearly half a mile.
Dave Cawley, chairman of the Dartmouth Patient Participation Group and a trust governor, pressed for the roadside access but said he is appalled at what has been created.
He said: “Imagine someone with a one-year-old in a buggy getting off the bus and finding three concrete steps and a gravelled path, much like the gravelled bit at the end of College Way which you drive on if car goes out of control and which stops you very quickly.
“Well the same thing is going to happen here. Elderly people too will struggle to gain access with walking aids.”
Mr Cawley said he raised the issue at the last meeting with the local NHS trust, asking for the access to be made more user and disabled friendly, but to no avail.
“I was fobbed off; they said “we did what you wanted” and “it’s not in our remit.”
“They just brushed us off and didn’t seem to be that interested which, considering the cost of the building, just doesn’t seem right.”
His calls to the trust to make changes have also proved fruitless, he said, but he vowed to keep fighting for them.
“I just cannot understand why they have come up with that design. It’s absolutely ludicrous,” said Jonathan.“You cannot expect mums and dads with prams or pushchairs, or disabled buggies or motability scooters to mount those three steps, it is ridiculous.
“The council has put a zebra crossing in, there’s a pavement to it, regular bus services stop there - I cannot understand why they have done it. I have questioned it several times at trust meetings.
“They said they haven’t got any funds now to do it properly. We are going to keep fighting for it because it simply cannot stay like that.”
The trust was approached for comment.