A HOSPITAL is urging people to ditch their cars after reports of hour-long delays for patients with the launch of phase two in a sweeping £12.5m infrastructure improvement programme.

Oxfordshire County Council began the second phase of its 23-month long Access to Headington scheme at The Slade on April 18, a programme expected to last six months between Old Road and Hollow Way.

Since the work began which will upgrade junctions and provide bus priority gates among other upgrades Headington’s Churchill Hospital has said that drivers are facing ‘significant’ delays.

In a statement Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “This work is having a significant effect on traffic. Diversions will be in place for all traffic including buses.

“Please do not drive unless you have no other option. Parking space is very limited and there is no on-street parking nearby.

“If you have no alternative, please allow one hour to find a space.”

Headington councillor Liz Brighouse, meanwhile, called for a radical solution and suggested the use of tickets for drivers visiting the hospital to give them priority in making appointments.

She said: “I do think the hospital needs to start looking at other options.

“There are massive queues of traffic and lines of people parking in back roads and buses not being able to get through Wood Farm Road. It’s chaos.”

“Hopefully it will improve when it is done. It is certainly about helping cyclists to get through. We need to encourage that.”

The first section of the phase two works will centre at the junction with Old Road and work down the western side of the road in phases, taking four months to complete.

The eastern side will then be the focus of works for two months, before the third phase begins, expected to commence closer to the Marston area.

Mrs Brighouse also warned that the problem in The Slade area was because of the residential nature of the roads and said that the infrastructure couldn’t cope with the influx of drivers to the area.

One driver who was queueing up along with dozens of other drivers on Monday, Daniel Hayes, 38, said he had ‘great sympathy’ for patients trying to make their appointments.

He said: “The roads here are awful, it’s been like this for a long time now.

“I have to drive through the city and something really needs to be done about all the roadworks. I am constantly delayed.

The county council, meanwhile, said that work was progressing well.

In a statement it added: “To keep traffic flowing through the work, we have kept two lanes running at all times.

“These lanes are narrow so please take extra care and do not overtake cyclists.

“There may be times during this project when the traffic will have to be controlled under temporary traffic lights, however we will keep this to a minimum and during off-peak hours to cause as little disruption as possible.”