HOSPITAL TRUST SLAMMED OVER DISABLED PARKING CHARGES:
ASHADOW health minister has slated the Government as the Labour Party reported Halton and Whiston hospitals are among 23 in the North West to charge for disabled parking.
Justin Madders MP laid into the trusts as NHS Digital published figures showing 139 hospitals sites in England have fees for blue badge holders.
A Labour Party North West spokeswoman said 1,213 medical premises provided details as part of the annual Estates Return Information Collection.
The figure means that blue badge holders are charged for parking at 11.46% of all hospital sites.
Both the number and proportion had risen from 132 out of 1,251 sites in 2014-15 and 135 of 1,214 in 2015-16.
The spokeswoman said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously described disabled parking charges as a ‘stealth tax on the vulnerable’ and issued guidance saying he would cut the cost of parking for certain groups including those with disabilities, as reported by the BBC in August 2014.
Labour said it planned to end hospital parking charges in the run-up to the General Election.
A spokeswoman for St Helens And Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (STHK), which runs Whiston, said the trust has free parking for cancer patients and priority for blue badge holders.
She said STHK has approximately 700 spaces for patients and visitors, 100 of which are designated for blue badge holders and 24 are free.
In his statement, Labour MP Mr Madders said: “It is a disgrace Jeremy Hunt has done nothing to tackle parking charges for disabled people, despite acknowledging himself 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.”
A spokeswoman for St Helens And Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Whiston, said: “The trust complies with national guidance for the provision of disabled parking facilities and there are convenient drop-off spaces at all entrances.
“The trust also provides free parking close to the cancer unit. Priority is given to blue badge holders with bays as close to the hospital as possible.
“A variety of concessions are available to regular users including a £10 unlimited seven-day access to parking available for families to share.
“The trust makes no profit from the revenue of the car parks.
“All income generated is reinvested in facilities, this includes security, lighting, maintenance costs and estate payments.”
Halton General Hospital on Hospital Way in Runcorn.