Thursday, 17 July 2014

Blue badge Parking at Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals.


Here’s an article from ‘Get Surrey’ and an advertisement for a public meeting today (Thursday 17th July 2014). I’ve got a couple of things to say about this at the end of the article;

Paralympians Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Weir back Ashford & St Peter's disabled parking charges petition

 Get Surrey

 Jun 26, 2014 15:06 

 By Chris Caulfield 

An open meeting will be held in July to discuss the contentious issue of hospitals charging blue badge holders to park

Hundreds of people, including Paralympic athletes, are backing a petition calling on Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to reverse its decision to charge disability blue badge holders to park their cars.

In April, the trust announced it was planning to charge disabled users of its hospitals for parking, leading to anger at the "victimisation" of a group of people likely to use healthcare services more than others.

One opponent, Caroline Williams, decided she had heard enough and is petitioning the NHS board to reverse its decision.

Her efforts have gained support from two athletes who represented Great Britain during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Weir.

Mrs Williams, 50, of Molesey Road in Hersham, said: “I’m not disabled but my mother is and I have got several good friends who are blue badge holders.

“It’s unfair to make them pay for car parking.

“Not all of them are entitled to means-tested benefits to claim back the charges.

“My mother was effectively nursing my father at the hospital. If she hadn’t had her blue badge pass, she would have been spending £40 a day.

"It’s putting more stress on people who have already got enough.

“The petition has already been signed by British Paralympians Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Weir, and it’s been constantly retweeted.

“I’m not political or anything, I just wanted to do something to stop them going after an easy target.”

Mrs Williams added: “I went to my mum’s and she was up in arms about it. I came home and started up the petition, and by the next morning people had started signing it.”

The petition to outgoing chief executive Andrew Liles, deputy chief executive Valerie Bartlett and trust chairman Aileen McLeish calls on them "to stop the introduction of car parking charges for the disabled".

The trust is planning to hold an open meeting ­to discuss the issue in more detail, at 3pm on Thursday July 17 at the Hythe Centre in Egham.

Here’s my views on this issue;

In the last financial year, the trust raked in £1,401,867 in Car parking fees from able-bodied people but as these were collected on its behalf by a private company their take after expenses and profits would be a lot less.

The people who attend hospital are likely to be old and/or infirm and in many cases don’t get the state benefits which would entitle them to a refund (if they are told about it).

For patients and their visitors these charges are a huge burden – one that the highly paid managers don’t share.

People shorten visits or reduce visits because of the cost of parking.

The amount of extra revenue they hope to steal from blue badge holders will be relatively trivial in terms of revenue but a real struggle for those who have to pay.

Of course there is a need for this money;

In May, managers and medics travelled to New York, Miami and Pennsylvania for a week-long fact-finding mission as part of a larger group from Surrey trusts.

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust alone spent £128,000 sending their 12-strong contingent.

That works out at £10,666 per person per week. There aren’t too many patients of the hospital get to spend that kind of money on a holiday.

And that kind of money pays for a lot of blue badge holders parking at the hospitals.

The Hospital trust sees this as an easy way to make money – we need to make it clear that’s not going to happen.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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