Will people be charged to go to the hospital?

Under the proposals published by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), Addenbrooke’s, the Rosie and Papworth hospitals (together with other buildings in the Cambridge Biomedical Campus), will be within the Sustainable Travel Zone. Visitors to the hospitals and the Biomedical Campus will therefore pay the road charge (unless exempt), however the cost of many trips to hospitals will be reimbursable. The GCP is currently proposing reimbursements for the following people visiting the hospital:

  • NHS patients clinically assessed as too ill, weak or disabled to travel to an appointment on public transport, including those who:
    • have a compromised immune system,
    • require regular therapy or assessments, 
    • need regular surgical intervention. 
  • NHS staff using a vehicle to carry certain items (such as equipment, controlled drugs, patient notes or clinical specimens, blood or breast milk);  
  • NHS patients accessing Accident and Emergency services; 
  • NHS and other emergency services staff responding to an emergency when on call. 

Why are the hospitals within the Sustainable Travel Zone?

The hospitals are within the Zone as their sites and the surrounding area experience a large amount of congestion. The traffic often queues as far back as the nearest junction with the M11, causing a road safety hazard and inconvenience to motorway users.

The hospitals are located on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which is also home to many other businesses and organisation. The Campus is a significant employer, however the current bus connections and walking and cycling links to the site are inadequate. The congestion associated with the site is also forecast to get worse as the Campus expands (two new hospitals are already planned).

What is the opinion of the Chair of the Cambridge University Hospitals?

Dr Mike Moore, Chair of the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation trust gave his views on the scheme in an article for the Cambridge Independent. He says:

“I welcome the debate and bold approach being consulted upon by the Greater Cambridge Partnership…”Ignoring the problem or tinkering with it won’t improve the experiences of people trying to come to the hospital for appointments, to work, or to visit loved ones. Promoting positive alternatives and investing significantly in public transport are essential and welcome ingredients of any future proposals”.

Dr Mike Moore

In the same article, he explains that driving to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus is not an option for many who work on the site, due to the limited parking available. Hospital staff and visitors alike are inconvenienced by the inadequate bus services which cause people to be late for work or appointments, and visitor parking costs are very high. The experience of travelling by cycle or on foot to the Biomedical Campus is also currently very poor.

He concludes:

“”For me, I do believe things need to change, so that we provide more sustainable transport options across Cambridge as well as on the Biomedical Campus.”

Dr Mike Moore

How is the GCP planning to improve transport options for the Biomedical Campus?

If the Making Connections proposals go ahead, the transformation of the bus network – with reduced fares, more services, more frequent connections and longer operating hours – would make it much easier to access the hospitals and the Biomedical Campus by bus in the early mornings, evenings and at weekends. The GCP is also planning to create a travel hub at the Biomedical Campus, including a bus station, a rail station, secure cycle parking and micro-mobility services such as shared bikes and e-scooters, so that it is much easier to access the Campus and travel onwards from without using a car. Capacity would be increased at the Trumpington Road Park & Ride as well.