"unfairness of paying for disabled parking"

About: Lister Hospital

What could be improved

Disabled Parking - I know charging for this is a change of policy for the Lister, and it takes time to get used to it, but I do think the vast majority of hospitals have some scheme for either free disabled parking for 3 hours or a reduction in price for people who have to use the hospital more than most. Weekly or monthly tickets don't cover this unless your treatment is within these periods. People on disability benefits (as well as everyone on benefits generally) find the cost of parking at the hospital generally expensive, especially if treatment goes over the 3 hour limit.

I do think charging for disabled parking is not generally expected and it is possible for the hospital managment to change this policy or make concessions.

A notice on the multi-storey carpark telling disabled people they now have to pay would be helpful - as would accurate informaiton on the NHS website.

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Responses

Response from Lister Hospital

The Trust is now one of an increasing number of NHS organisations locally, regionally and nationally that charges all people, whether blue badge holders or not, to park their cars while visiting hospital. In designing the new car park at the Lister, we involved a wide range of organisations who reprersent the views of those with disabilities. What they wanted were:

1) More designated blue badge bays - with our new multi-storey car park, we have tripled the number to over 100

2) Direct access to the hospital - all our blue badge bays are next to lifts, which provide people with direct access to the Lister, thus protecting them from the elements

3) Wheelchairs and advice on hand - we now have coin-release wheelchairs (rather like the supermarket trolley system) by all designated bays, as well 24-hour staffing and a parking shop offering advice and support during normal working hours

4) Pay only for the time people use - which is why we introduced a pay on exit system

5) Concessionary rates - we continued the weekly, monthly and three-monthly ticket system that has been in operation for some years

Many people on benefits also qualify for the National Health Care Travel Scheme, which allows for the cost of travel and parking at NHS hospitals to be claimed back. We are now working to make this process more clear and to promote its availability through improved car park signage and literature.

Finally the issue of charging. What many do not know is that it costs the Trust around £1 million every year to run its car parks. The income we receive from charging - staff and the public - is set to cover that cost as we do not get any other form of funding to cover parking provision. In 2010, there was a very small surplus - about £60,000 - which was ploughed back in to patient care. So we don't charge to make profit, but to ensure that we provide safe, secure and effective parking for everyone who comes to one of our hospitals.

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