Charges review

NHS Trust chiefs have agreed to monitor the impact of hospital parking charges for disabled people

NHS Trust chiefs have agreed to monitor the impact of hospital parking charges for disabled people

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Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust has agreed to review the introduction of parking charges for disabled drivers.

The announcement comes after the Trust’s board was addressed by Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff last week.

Concerns have been voiced about the policy’s impact on blue badge holders, with critics arguing that NHS appointments may be missed as a result of disabled drivers being unable to afford the charges.

Ms Sherriff told the board: “Whilst there are many users of the hospital that have been hit hard by the recent rise in parking charges, I feel it is the blue badge holders who will suffer the most.

“Able bodied patients have the option of walking or using public transport, but many disabled patients do not have this choice and can only access their appointments by car. There is also an increased likelihood they are going to need to access the hospital services more frequently. These charges have a huge impact on the lives of people who are already suffering at the hands of their disabilities.”

The scheme came into force in hospitals under the jurisdiction of the Mid Yorkshire Trust in July.

Although charging disabled drivers is not government policy, such decisions are taken by local Trusts and The Independent newspaper reported last month that one in 10 hospitals had such a system in place.

It was also reported that parking charges as a whole are worth £200bn a year to the NHS.

Ms Sherriff referenced the story of one elderly couple from Dewsbury as a “worrying” case resulting from the charges.

“One of my constituents contacted me distraught. She and her husband are both pensioners and her husband is on many medications and has to attend Dewsbury Hospital weekly for blood tests.

He has said he will not go to the hospital any more due to the charges being unaffordable. Obviously this is extremely worrying and she simply doesn’t know where to turn to with this issue.”

Trust chairman Jules Preston informed Ms Sherriff the number of missed appointments since July would be monitored as part of the plans to measure the impact of the charges.