“Disgrace” over hospitals’ disabled parking charges

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt

New figures released by NHS Digital this week show that 139 hospital sites in England charge disabled patients and visitors for parking – including 11 in Yorkshire and Humber.

Hospitals in Barnsley, NE Lincolnshire, Wakefield, Kirklees, Calderdale and Sheffield are among those charging Blue Badge holders to park.

A total of 1213 sites, including Scunthorpe General, Goole and Grimsby hospitals, provided details as part of the annual Estates Return Information Collection. Disabled patients and visitors are charged at 11.5% of sites.

The figures for previous year were - 132 sites charging of 1251 declared in 2014/15, and 135 of 1214 in 2015/16, meaning both the number and proportion of sites charging have increased in each of the last two years.

Jeremy Hunt has previously described parking charges for disabled people as a “stealth tax on the vulnerable” and issued guidance that he claimed would cut the cost of parking for certain groups including people with disabilities.

justin Madders MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, said: “It is a disgrace that Jeremy Hunt has done nothing to tackle parking charges for disabled people, despite acknowledging himself that they are unfair.

“Disabled people often have no choice but to drive to hospital, and it’s wrong to target them with parking fees.

“The truth is hospitals are being forced to introduce or increase parking charges because they are desperately short of cash. This Government has caused a financial crisis in the NHS, and disabled people are paying the price.”

Keith Fowler, head of facilities at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust, said: “All disabled parking at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust is subject to the Trust’s car parking tariff system.

“The charge to all blue badge holders is a fixed rate of £2 rather than the standard parking charges.

“Blue badge holders who use the Trust car parks regularly are advised to register their vehicle with the car parking and security teams to ensure they receive the fixed rate tariff. Evidence of the Blue Badge is required on initial registration. If you register via email a scanned copy of the badge will be required, including the face plate.

“This means blue badge holders will no longer have the inconvenience of having to give their details every time they visit, however It is important that the vehicle driver remembers their Vehicle Registration Plate number on every occasion when paying for parking.”

The current charges are fixed until 2020/21 when the charges will be reviewed.