HOSPITAL staff are facing longer days, ambulances are facing longer waits and car parks could be overloaded when a vital bus service is scrapped this month.

The fall-out from the announcement Thamesdown Transport will cut its number 20 route has continued, with Great Western Hospital (GWH) employees lifting the lid on their problems.

On May 31, the service that gives passengers along the Stratton and Covingham corridor a direct link to the GWH, will be terminated.

Hospital staff, as well as patients, will be affected by the decision and now face longer days to cope with a new commuting regime, but foresee a knock-on effect for ambulances and motorists too.

Julie Goddard, 45, of Frilford Drive, Stratton, is an asset management clerk at GWH.

She said poor reliability has contributed to dwindling passenger numbers.

“When I first started it was extremely busy, but because a lot of people found the reliability kept getting worse, they couldn’t rely on it turning up on time or at all,” she said.

“They couldn’t afford to carry on with that.

“People will be parking here (at the hospital) if they do drop the service every day. That affects all the ambulances as well.

“They are always saying they want people to use the bus to be more environmentally friendly or walk in, or car share.

“They have got to find someone who does the same hours as yourself, so we are stuck.”

There are already daily delays for vehicles trying to get in and out of the hospital’s busy car parks, which can affect ambulances trying to reach A&E, according to Julie.

She currently faces a daily charge of more than £8 if she wants to bring her car to work, as she lives too close to the hospital to be eligible for a free, staff parking permit.

Margaret Aqeel, 58, of Ashbury Avenue, Nythe, is a GWH accountant, who already pays more than £480 per year for a bus pass through her employer.

She said there are elderly passengers who will also struggle to reach Eldene Surgery as a result of this decision.

In her 14 years at the hospital she has watched the frequency of the number drop from every 15 minutes to every 45 minutes.

Yesterday, she counted 22 passengers on her bus alone using the service to reach GWH. But next month she faces a trip to the town centre, in the opposite direction, before changing services to get to work at the hospital.

A spokesman for the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We were not consulted by Thamesdown Transport on its decision to end the number 20 service, which will affect a number of our staff, volunteers, visitors and patients.

“We have communicated the news to staff and will be taking Thamesdown Transport’s decision into consideration in how we manage parking.

“Currently, staff who have more than a 30-minute commute via public transport are eligible to apply for a parking permit.

“We do not subsidise any commercially operated public bus services and are not in a financial position to do so.”