‘Fewer people will park at King’s Mill Hospital’

MORE than 50 people have been in touch with Chad this week as part of a red hot debate over the rise in car parking charges at King’s Mill Hospital.

The hospital’s ruling trust put up the cost of parking for an hour or more by 50p per stay last Tuesday.

Free parking for the disabled was also scrapped in changes first debated earlier this year.

Many people told Chad they thought paying anything to park while visiting or attending for treatment was unfair.

But some also said they now expected to pay anyway and thought the charges were fair on balance.

The changes mean one to four hours is now 50p higher at £3, four to six hours is now £5 and six to 24 hours is £6.50.

A 15 minute stay is still free and up to one hour is still £1.50.

Although the trust sets the fees, it is committed to providing agreed income levels from car parking to private firm Medirest as part of its private finance initiative (PFI) contracts.

Explaining the changes further, Lucy Dadge, commercial director for Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We think and we hope we’ve now got a system that’s optimal that means we can protect our income.

“We will not review the charges again for another 12 months and we take this issue seriously and will keep it under review.

She added: “I can honestly say I think we’ve now got the best hospital car parking in the region.

“PFI has enabled us to find a solution to car parking and I think you can see the benefits of that.”

Recent improvements included making all but one of the hospital’s public car parks pay on exit instead of pay and display, while the number of overall spaces has increased and extra signage has been installed.

Among those who posted Facebook comments on last week’s Chad story about the issue was Chloe Chaplin, who said: “There should be exceptions to the rule for OAPs and people with disabilities, but for most, it shouldn’t be a problem to walk a little or use public transport if they can’t afford the cost of parking.”

Ivan Cotton, a disabled blue badge holder, also got in touch. He drives to the hospital every Monday to attend a special fitness class for people with cardiac problems.

He pays £2.50 for the one hour session and now £3 to park his car after free parking for the disabled was scrapped.

“It now costs me £5.50 in total to go each time, and going every week will cost me £22 a month.” he said.

“I could just go to a commercial gym and pay £17 a month and park for free. I know the hospital has got its own money problems but the way they are going about it there will be less people parking there and then they still won’t have the money to cover the costs,” he added.