PATIENTS who found themselves stuck in massive traffic jams as they tried to reach Great Western Hospital are demanding action.

They can hardly be blamed. Anybody who’s attempted to reach that place in a car knows it’s best not to bother when the roads are busy.

Quite what can be done about the problem is a bit of a conundrum.

Maybe the hospital trust could set up roving squads of doctors, nurses and physios to deliver roadside outpatient services on the main approaches to the hospital, a bit like the AA or the RAC.

After all, the human body is nothing more than a machine, albeit a somewhat squishier one than a Ford Mondeo.

If outpatients found themselves marooned in a traffic jam, all they’d have to do is call a special hotline number and await roadside assistance. For patients needing routine treatments such as physiotherapy and fairly trivial medical procedures, the assistance might consist of a brisk trot up and down the hard shoulder or minor operations performed using their own back seats as improvised surgical tables.

Extra illumination might be provided either by torchlight or plugging flexible lamps into vehicles’ fag lighter sockets.

Patients needing more delicate or intimate treatments could always be put in the back of the medical team’s van.

Obviously, patients with breathing difficulties might not do too well when exposed to the noxious combined exhaust fumes of thousands of crawling vehicles, but we’d have to cross that bridge when we came to it.

Another solution that might just improve matters is changing the layout of the nearby road and the car park itself in order to prevent jams and alleviate the utter misery they cause, but that would cost a great deal of money.

The best way of preventing situations such as this arising in the first place is to get the road network and all the rest of a hospital’s infrastructure sorted out properly before so much as a single brick is laid.

It is, of course, rather too late for such considerations in the case of GWH, but there may be eager young officials reading this who will someday find themselves planning other hospitals elsewhere in the region or the country.

If you are such a person, please remember to ask yourself and your colleagues how many people the hospital is supposed to serve. Remember that populations tend to go up over the years, so try to find out how big the population served by your hospital is likely to be during its lifetime.

Discovering this information should not be too difficult as there are several thousand population growth experts who’d be only too happy to help in exchange for a small fee.

In fact, you don’t even need experts for the task. The job is so simple that a couple of first year town planning students could probably do it in exchange for a small case of cider and a box of chocolate biscuits.

Calculating population growth may seem a pretty obvious strategy, but it’s evidently something that’s easy to forget.

After all, nobody appears to have done the job properly when Swindon’s hospital was being planned, do they?


THE POLICE, the fire service and the Swindon Community Safety Partnership have joined forces to advise us on how to prevent ourselves from becoming victims of crime this festive season.
Very sensible advice it is, too, including common sense things we often forget, such as not leaving gifts on view in unattended cars. 
I never leave gifts on view in unattended cars, but I have been known to leave an unattended plate of home-made mince pies on the passenger seat and the window open. And if the recipe happens to include powerful laxatives, then that’s my business.