Dear Darlin Olly Murs
6 February 2013, 06:00
Disabled people in Hertfordshire face having to pay to park at three hospitals - where they currently enjoy free parking.
Margo Milne from Borehamwood's spoken to Heart to tell us how she'd be affected by the changes.
Margo has Multiple Sclerosis and can't walk to the end of her garden path, let alone get to the bus stop without using powered assistance - so driving to the Watford General Hospital is her only viable option, not having the ability to take public transport.
Margo told us she was angry when she heard the news parking charges for disabled people were being introduced. "With changes to the welfare system is bad enough, without more charges from the NHS.
I don't accept a charge for all drivers, abled and disabled is fair. First of all, people with disabilities are far more likely to attend hospital on an ongoing basis - so we're going to incur a lot more charges. It's really quite expensive being disabled."
A spokesman for the disability charity Scope spoke to Heart: "We would like to know where the extra money is going - is it into a big hole in the NHS's finances or will disabled people see a benefit of increased level of service by paying this new charge?"
In a statement to Heart from Louise Gaffney, Director of Strategy and Infrastructure said: "As from 1 April 2013, Blue Badge holders will be liable to the pay the same parking charges as other visitors to our three hospital sites, Watford General, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans City Hospitals. This decision was not made lightly by the Trust Board, but it believes that it will create fairness and equality for everyone needing to use the hospital car parks. Trust staff with a Blue Badge are charged for parking on site.
The Trust will continue to have dedicated, priority spaces for disabled visitors. A wide range of car parking discounts are also on offer to patients and visitors who park at the sites frequently. In addition, there are free 30 minute parking bays available on each of our hospital sites. Information on concessions is widely available throughout all of the hospitals and on the Trust's website.
Many other NHS Trusts and local authorities charge Blue Badge holders to use car parking facilities."