Blue badge parking charges cause ‘hardship’ at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals

Pinderfields Hospital Car Park
Pinderfields Hospital Car Park

Disabled people have been suffering financial hardship after being made to pay for car parking at the district’s hospitals.

A survey of patients with blue badges in their cars found that 64 per cent had experienced money problems as a result of new charges brought in last March.

The study by health and social care watchdog Healthwatch found that just seven per cent were aware that regular hospital patients could get help with parking charges.

Twenty per cent of blue badge holders had missed hospital appointments because of parking charges at the trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals.

And 66 per cent said new disabled bays had not made it easier to park, the survey found.

A report to the board of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust said: “Healthwatch also collected a number of comments made by visitors as part of their questionnaire.

“Generally the feedback was negative, with overall comments on high charging levels, combined with no knowledge of the trust concessions policy.”

Now new signs will be installed in car parks by the end of July to tell people about parking concessions as part of a new communications plan.

Posters for hospital wards have been printed and an information booklet has been updated with information on parking charges.

The report said: “These new booklets will be available at all reception points shortly and discussions are ongoing with our communications team for wider publicity, including GP surgeries and health centres.”

The report said Mid Yorkshire took a difficult decision to start charging blue badge holders to save money.

It said: “It was also to help maintain an ongoing investment programme in our car parking facilities whilst minimising the need to divert money from direct patient care.”

Charges for disabled parkers were capped at the £2.80 cost of a two-hour stay.

“Capping the rate at a two hour stay was also deemed a sensible and practical solution for our visitors and patients who may have problems returning to a meter if they need to stay longer than anticipated,” said the report.

Parking for under 20 minutes at Mid Yorkshire is free. Then a stay of up to one hour costs £2, between one and two hours is £2.80, two to four hours is £5 and between four and 24 hours costs £6.90.

For information on parking concessions log on to www.midyorks.nhs.uk