A BUNGLING health board has built a £1bn ‘super’ hospital – with doors disabled people struggle to use.
Barely five months after admitting the first patients, cash-strapped NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde faces a bill that could run into thousands to adapt doors for wheelchair users.
Outraged patients have complained that the futuristic building that includes a cinema and button-less lifts but some disabled people find it “impossible” to get through the doors unaided.
Campaigners are “shocked” that the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, one of the largest acute hospitals in the UK, does not cater for those with mobility issues.
While the Scottish Conservatives said the health bosses need to treat the issue as a “matter of urgency”.
An assessment carried out by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, released under Freedom of Information legislation, reveals access problems throughout the hospital.
Doors on wards, in the lift core, clinics and outpatients areas open manually towards the user meaning anyone in a chair has to wheel through backwards with one hand while holding it open.
Even doors on disabled toilets are proving difficult for people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters to negotiate.
Health chiefs say they are investigating the issue but do not have a timescale for when it will be fixed or an estimate for how much it will cost.
Proposals to hold doors open with magnets that are connected to the fire system are likely to be costly to implement.
The assessment states: “Doors open manually towards the user and they would be required to hold the door and reverse their wheelchair/scooter with one hand, whilst opening the door and manoeuvring their equipment through the door whilst holding the door opens.”
In the ‘other observations’ section it states: “It should also be noted, that outwith the areas detailed above, the disabled toilets provided within the main atrium all have difficulties associated with wheelchair users opening doors towards them.
“This is repeated in the disabled toilets within the ward waiting areas toilets.”
In a complaint to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde one angry patient wrote: “I can’t believe you don’t have automatic doors for wheelchair users.
“Access to lifts for people in wheelchairs is difficult, having to rely on others to hold access doors open.”
Another complainant said: “I’m am a wheelchair user and I found it impossible to navigate independently from outpatients to dept. [redacted]. In fact it’s impossible to access most areas as there is no disabled pad to open doors.”
Bill Scott, Director of Policy at Inclusion Scotland, said: “They really should take this seriously and address it.
“They have a public sector duty to make reasonable adjustments to meet the need of people going to the hospital.”
He added: “People get caught-up in the look rather than what is important, which is the functionality.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Patients using wheelchairs and mobility scooters not being able to access doors at Glasgow’s newest hospital is a major blip.
“NHS Glasgow has had more than enough time to sort out any snagging problems and they should be looking into these patient concerns as a matter of urgency.”
And Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It takes a remarkable amount of bungling to build a hospital of all things without considering whether it was fit for purpose for disabled people.
“While it’s particularly galling that even the disabled toilets aren’t up to scratch suggesting a total lack of forward planning, at a time when we’re trying to make savings the required retrofit will no doubt cost taxpayers’ a pretty penny.”
A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde insisted the building and doors comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.
He said: “However, in view of feedback from a small number of patients we are improving main entrance signage and looking at options to improve access to the two lift halls.
“The weight of some internal doors has been highlighted by a small number of visitors and staff.”