ACTION is being demanded after a major traffic jam which blocked the road for ambulances and left hundreds of drivers sitting stationary for hours.
The boss of Royal Bournemouth Hospital is calling for talks with council chiefs and police over Tuesday night’s “unacceptable” delays.
He revealed ambulances were held up and blood samples were delayed while staff and patients fumed in queues.
The jams – which began mid-afternoon – were blamed on temporary traffic lights at Christchurch’s Barrack Road, combined with other troubles including the closure of the Avon Causeway because of flooding.
The temporary lights were later removed but the backlog of traffic meant the delays continued.
There were more hold-ups last night, with drivers who had parked towards the back of the hospital reporting delays of up to two hours.
Tony Spotswood, chief exec-utive of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Trust, told the Daily Echo there had been “significant disruption” for patients.
“There were also unacceptable delays in ambulances accessing the site because of the density of congestion,” he said.
“There were delays in samples, such as blood, leaving the site and being sent to other hospitals for urgent investigation, so the delays all around were completely unacceptable.
“We think it’s unreasonable the degree of disruption for staff in the hospital. For some, it has serious implications for their family life including childcare arrangements.
“I will be contacting the chief executive and leader of the council to discuss with them the urgent need for a long-term solution, which is alternative access to the Wessex Way.”
The hospital would be organising “internal traffic support” to equalise the traffic flows out of its several car parks.
Chloe Boyce, spokeswoman for Southern Gas Networks, apol-ogised for the delay.
“We are currently carrying out a new gas connection job for a nursing home in Barrack Road, Christchurch. Temporary traffic lights have been necessary at certain times to ensure the safety of the public and our engineers,” she said.
A statement from Dorset County Council said SGN should have been controlling the temporary lights manually “but for some reason this did not happen”.
It added: “As soon as DCC were aware that this was the case, SGN were contacted and they sent an operative to manually control the lights sometime after 5.30pm.
“The build-up of traffic was unfortunately made worse by flooding on Avon Causeway and Stony Lane.”
Jams In Town
Christchurch continued to endure heavy traffic yesterday because of roadworks and road closures.
As well as the Barrack Road lights, there was more gas company work in the High Street, while the Avon Causeway and Stony Lane were closed following floods.
Geoff Morris, of Mr Simms Sweet Shop in the high street, said traders were keen to let people know that the street was open for business, even though access from the Fountain roundabout was blocked.
“The gas pipe works are committed to allowing all trade to continue, even the Monday market,” he said.
Stuck in car for more than three hours
Vicky Hayward had taken her four-year-old son Logan to an appointment on Tuesday.
They were stuck in the car from 3.20pm until 6.50pm, when she gave up and took a lift with a friend from Castle Lane West.
“There were people on drips that had just had operations and were having to sit and wait,” she said.
“What was really frustrating was that the traffic on the Wessex Way was moving. I went to Burger King to get my son dinner and you could see that the traffic was moving.”
Mike Durham, a volunteer driver from West Moors, was stationery in a car with an elderly patient from 3.45pm until 7.15pm.
“People were just dumping their cars and going off. I saw one couple go off to the Toby Carvery to get a meal and come back again,” he said.
“Nobody came to explain the situation and make sure people were okay.
“There needs to be a more coherent strategy for when it happens again.”
Malcolm Newton, who had been taking his mother-in-law to an appointment, moved 50 yards in two-and-a-half hours.
“It’s been incredibly poorly managed,” he said.
“It’s the sort of thing where police should intervene to override the traffic lights so the traffic can be kept moving.”