We absolutely understand that parking charges at hospitals is a contentious issue. However, the financial climate we now find ourselves in has become significantly more challenging and increasing our parking charges is one of a number of measures we are introducing across our hospitals to support our savings plans and ensure that our central funding is focused on the delivery of patient care.
It’s really important to stress that any patient, abled bodied or otherwise, who is entitled to have their parking costs reimbursed will continue to receive free parking as they do now. This means our parking charges will be based on affordability for all patients including blue badge holders.
We have committed to looking at how we can improve arrangements for our patients to claim free parking if they are eligible and to make sure this is well publicised and made clearer across our hospitals. We also want to work with local patient groups, our Disability Group in particular, to improve the overall experience of those using our car parks.
Introducing this new charging structure is not a decision our Board has taken lightly but we have to do everything we possibly can to make sure we can continue to run high quality, safe services for the patients we serve. The Trust also has a range of parking concessions for people visiting on a frequent basis (for example patients receiving cancer treatment, cardiac rehabilitation and parents of young babies in our neonatal intensive care unit).
The new charges will come into effect from 1st May 2017.
Issued 3rd April 2017
Further public response on implementation of parking charges for blue badge holders
As we have reiterated in previous correspondence, and particularly in our response to the published open letter, we absolutely recognise that this is an emotive subject for many people and equally acknowledge the campaign that is being run opposing the new charging structure.
However, as we have also made very clear, this is a decision taken by our Board in response to the increasingly difficult financial situation we find ourselves in; it is not one we have made lightly and we both recognise and acknowledge that many people will not agree with this decision. However, ensuring that we are able to protect our central income for direct patient care has to be our key priority. As we have said previously additional funds from car parking charges helps us to maintain and run our car parking facilities without recourse to this central funding. As a hospital Trust we only receive funding/payment for the clinical services that we run for patients. All other costs have to be borne by us so raising additional income where we can helps us to protect those clinical services. As we have explained before any patients, able bodied or otherwise, in receipt of certain benefits or who are deemed to be on very low incomes, will be eligible to reclaim their travel and parking costs. I appreciate and acknowledge that this will not apply to all disabled people but means we will create a more equitable charging structure based on affordability rather than eligibility.
Finally, we have made it very clear with our stakeholder groups that this is not a consultation. Our Board have had to make a difficult decision, based on the financial climate we unfortunately find ourselves in, but it is a decision that has been taken. We therefore don’t feel it would be helpful or appropriate at this point to hold a public meeting as we did in 2014. We have engaged with our Disability Group, our Patient Panel, our Car Parking and Travel Group (which includes patient representatives) and with our Governors and – as we have openly stated – although not everyone agreed with the decision, we have held some helpful discussions on how we continue to ensure our hospitals remain accessible for all patients and visitors and that we ensure a smooth implementation of the new charging structure.
Issued 26th April 2017