ONLINE POLL: King’s Mill Hospital considers charging disabled to park

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DISABLED drivers could be charged to park at King’s Mill Hospital as its trust faces higher running costs.

Some hospital users called the idea ‘disgusting’, but bosses say they may have to take funding from elsewhere if they do not make changes.

Blue disabled badge holders can currently park for free at the site.

Carolyn White, trust chief executive, said in a statement: “Car parking is not directly managed by the hospital, it is delivered as part of the wider private finance initiative (PFI) contract.

“It is a complex arrangement and the rates charged to the public for parking are, to a certain extent, separate from the operational aspects.  

“As such the hospital is keen to strike an appropriate balance between the costs of running the facilities, including the provision of security and safety, against the charges made to the users.”

Up to one hour currently costs £1.50 in the hospital’s car parks but would soar to £3 under one option to match levels planned five years ago.

Instead the trust is discussing changes to avoid such increases.

Options include keeping the £1.50 up to one hour fee but upping costs for some longer stays, charging the disabled and reviewing concessions later.

Said the trust in a statement: “As is currently happening in NHS organisations across the whole country, hospital car parking charges are under review.

“This is a necessary part of the range of measures being considered to deal with the financial challenges faced by our hospitals.”

The issue was discussed at a trust board of governors meeting on Thursday.

Said trust chairman Tracy Doucet: “The two things we won’t do is stay where we are or move right up and increase all our parking charges.”

Keeping the current charges, including free parking for the disabled, would mean the trust would have to find around £400,000 a year elsewhere.

“That’s not in our current financial plan and we would have to find that elsewhere,” Ms Doucet said.

Governors voted for the executive board’s recommendation of charging for disabled spaces, altering the existing tariff and also reviewing concessions after three months.

The list of concessions currently includes cancer outpatients and visitors to critical care.

The trust’s board of directors will make the final decision and could still decide not to charge disabled users and find cash from elsewhere.

The trust’s statement added: “Other representative groups have been involved in the development of the options and further engagement will take place before a decision is made by the board of directors.

“No decisions have yet been made. No timeframe has yet been set for this decision, although the trust would like to resolve matters as efficiently as they can.”

Staff car parking at the hospital is already due to double from £5 to £10 per month from 1st September.

The separate Nottingham University Hospitals trust, which runs hospitals including the Queen’s Medical Centre, is raising its car parking charges from 1st September with one-hour stays going from £2.70 to £3.

Nottinghamshire County LINk, which represents the public on the area’s healthcare issues, declined to comment on the plans.