Patients arriving at Mayday Hospital this week with valid disability blue badges in their cars are facing having to pay parking charges for the first time, or even the possibility of a penalty fine for using the hospital car park.
Signs appeared around the car park this week, the notices stating that blue badge-holders – who would normally expect to park without any charge – are now also subject to the pay and display system. Cars parked without a paid-for pay and display sticker could be subject to a fine.
The fee changes have caused additional “confusion and distress”, because initially the on-site notices contradicted the advice on the hospital’s website, which tells patients that blue badge-holders may park for free. That page has been removed in the past day.
But as one Inside Croydon loyal reader said, “What’s the point of using the hospital car park if you are a blue badge holder if you have to pay? You might just as well use the blue badge and park in London Road outside the hospital for free, and cause major congestion on the London Road.”
It is well-known that NHS hospitals are facing a funding crisis and need to raise income from a range of previously unconsidered sources. But levying parking charges from people who have a legitimate need to be transported as close to the hospital as possible to receive their treatment seems a step too far.
Alerted to the new charges by Inside Croydon, Adrian Dennis, the chair of the Croydon Disability Forum, wrote to the Croydon Health Services NHS Trust on Thursday, while the conflicting information regarding free parking was still published on the hospital’s website. It is suggested that it was this letter which persuaded the hospital management to remove its misleading web page over the Good Friday holiday.
The Mayday website had stated: “We have about 400 car parking spaces at Croydon University Hospital, with several car parks for patients and visitors, and others set aside for staff. Fifteen designated spaces are free and only for drivers or passengers with a disability who display a valid Blue Badge. If the 15 spaces are in use, Blue Badge holders can use other spaces for free.”
Dennis’s letter to the Trust said that the conflicting information was “causing some confusion and potential distress for disabled people who have to visit the hospital and we would appreciate it if this can be resolved as soon as possible…
“… The Croydon Disability Forum does not necessarily expect all Blue Badge parking to be free but disabled people are far more likely to have limited finances, often getting by on state benefits, so less able to afford high parking charges.
“Our first priority is have access to places we wish to go to, which the Blue Badge does to some extent by allowing parking in places where most others would not be able to park. We also need to know what the limitations are, which is where these conflicting messages get it wrong.
“On behalf of the Croydon Disability Forum I would ask that you clarify what your charging policy for Blue Badge users actually is…
“If it is now your intention to charge Blue Badge users a parking charge, we would ask that you take into account that these people are often on a very limited income and have little choice about where they can park close to their destinations.
“We would recommend that Blue Badge users are allowed to park free for three hours displaying their blue badge clock, and then incur the usual charges thereafter. Should this be unacceptable to the NHS Trust any period, even just one hour, would be of assistance to those who need Blue Badge transport.”
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