Azara Blog: Addenbrooke's Hospital site needs an architect

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Date published: 2007/11/25

There's a saying, if you want to die then go to a hospital (to be treated). Well, if you're not being treated, it might be ok to go to one. Addenbrooke's Hospital is the big Cambridge and regional hospital. The site also has several university departments on it, and also the famous MRC LMB building (famous for who worked inside, not for the building itself, which is dreadful).

One of the perpetual problems with the Addenbrooke's site is the parking, or more specifically the lack of parking. The last decade or so the Addenbrooke's management, in connivance with the ruling elite of the city of Cambridge, has practically leant over backwards to make parking as bad as possible, for patients, for visitors and for staff, although there is plenty of land on which one could provide car parking.

Even on a visit to Addenbrooke's on a Sunday late afternoon, the parking is difficult. First of all, you might drop someone at A&E (unbelievably, they haven't stopped you from doing that yet). Then it is pot luck (being dark) if you can find the car park they intend for you to use. You drive past empty car park after empty car park (obviously not intended for the peasants) semi-directed by a bunch of signs appearing now and again to Car Park F. You even drive past the new(ish) multi-storey car park, which has loads of spaces (or so the sign says) but evidently you are not allowed to use it.

Eventually, after a circling of practically the entire site, assuming you have not accidentally gone the wrong way having missed one of the small, tatty signs, you come across Car Park F, and can park (assuming it's not full, which given how full it is on a late Sunday afternoon, it looks like it probably quite often is). But this is not the end of your trouble.

The signage from the car park is practically nil, so just start walking semi-randomly trying to find where you want to go. There is an entrance to the shiny new Addenbrooke's Treatment Centre just across the road, and it seems anyone can just wander in there. There's nobody on reception, so nobody to ask. And the signage inside does not include any helpful clues about how to get to A&E. But if you happen to wander towards what is signed as the "main hospital", at least you are heading in the correct direction. But when you get to the main entrance to the "main hospital" there is still no sign for A&E. And unbelievably you have to go outside to go the last 50 m to get there (or so it at least seems).

If they spent less money on management consultants and more money on (sensible, rather than egoistic) architects, this would not have happened.

But one thing can be said, at least A&E seems to have gotten a lot quicker at seeing people the last decade. And it's just as well, given the extortionate amount of money they charge for parking (2.50 pounds for the first two hours, even on Sundays and evenings). Of course extortionate charges for parking is another one of those fine Cambridge traditions.

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