Sunday, 19 March 2017

Ashford and St. Peter's set to charge the disabled to park - Stop them!

I must admit that while I was expecting this news one day, it came as a blow.

Two and a half years ago, Ashford and St. Peter's NHS Foundation Trust tried to introduce car parking charges for disabled people with 'Blue Badges'.

There was a storm of protest from groups representing patients and disabled groups and in some embarrassment the Trust withdrew the plan.

They've come back at us again, as this article from 'Get Surrey shows;


Get Surrey NewsSt Peter's Hospital

Blue badge parking charges to be introduced at Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals as trust 'needs to raise additional income'

The hospital has announced changes to its car parking policy at Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals and an increase in its minimum parking charge
By Beth Duffell
13 MAR 2017

Blue badge holders will be charged to park at Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals, as the trust faces a challenging financial climate and needs to raise additional income.

The news comes more than two years after the hospitals made a U-turn on plans to charge blue badge holders to park at the hospitals but then withdrew the plans at the last minute.

The board at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced on Friday (March 10) that it had agreed to introduce parking charges for blue badge holders at the two hospitals as part of a review of a travel and car parking policy.

The charges apply only to those people who do not meet the affordability criteria, which would enable free parking.
Discussions have taken place with patients and the hospital disability group and hospital chiefs said people did not agree with the decision.

A review will be completed before the new charging structure is put in place.

At the same time, and in another blow to those parking at the hospital, the trust said its minimum parking charge will increase from £3.20 for two hours to £3.50 for two hours.


Yesterday I was contacted by Caroline Watson, who organised the campaign last time round - there's a new petition and we desperately need signatures to get the campaign off the ground.

There may be rich people with Blue Badges but for most people a disability or a serious illness is not just a health disaster it's also a financial disaster too.

Free parking, close to the hospital entrance makes all the difference when it's agony to walk.

Two years ago I was fairly well and didn't need a badge. Now every step is a struggle and the difference my badge makes is huge.

Here's the petition, please sign and share it however you can, your support is appreciated;

Finally, here is a couple more points.

The government has made it clear that car park charges are not to be used as a means of raising income - which is exactly what the Trust is attempting to do.

Secondly, two years ago I published this Blog in support of striking health Workers at St. Peter's - it exposed how the trust misused £128,000 in 2014, which was about the money that charging Blue badge holders would have brought in;


Last month St. Peter’s Hospitals health workers and support staff were demonstrating outside the front entrance. Unlike management, they are subject to what is really a pay freeze at a time of rapid inflation.

It’s another world at the top of the NHS Trusts, as this extract from a story in The Daily Express (23/6/14) shows;

Managers and medics travelled to New York, Miami and Pennsylvania for a week-long fact-finding mission.
It cost the four medical groups – all in Surrey – £281,100, an average of £1,434 per person, per day.
Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust spent £128,000 sending a 12-strong contingent.
Royal Surrey County Hospital – which cut 70 jobs last year – sent 12 staff at a cost of £117,700.
Dr David Eyre-Brook, chair of Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group and its deputy chief executive Karen McDowell ran up a bill of £21,400.

Their counterparts at North West Surrey CCG cost £14,000.

Of course, the alternative would be to employ another 10 nurses across the four trusts.
The money wasted by Ashford and St. Peters alone would have paid for another consultant or 5 nurses. As each nurse would ideally cover about 8 beds, those 5 nurses (accounting for shifts, time off, holidays and courses) would mean about 8 operations a week extra or about 400 a year.

Was the trip worthwhile?

They obviously didn’t read this study which I recently republished;

  The National Health Service has been praised as the world's best health-care system by an international panel of experts who said it was superior to those found in countries which spend far more on health.

The study, entitled “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall,” also described US healthcare provision as the worst globally. Despite investing the most money in health, the US refuses care to many patients without health insurance and is also the worst at saving the lives of people who fall ill, it found.

The Commonwealth Fund, a Washington-based foundation produced the report. The fund is respected around the world for its analysis of the performance of different countries' health systems. It examined 11 countries, including detailed data from patients, doctors and the World Health Organisation, the Guardian reported.
"The United Kingdom ranks first overall, scoring highest on quality, access and efficiency," the fund's researchers conclude in their 30-page report. Their findings amount to a huge endorsement of the health service, especially as it spends the second-lowest amount on healthcare among the 11 – just £2,008 per head, less than half the £5,017 in the US. Only New Zealand, with £1,876, spent less.
In the Commonwealth Fund study, the UK came first out of the 11 countries in eight of the 11 measures of care the authors looked at. It came top on measures including providing effective care, safe care, co-ordinated care and patient-centred care. The fund also rated the NHS as the best for giving access to care and for efficient use of resources.
What a waste.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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  1. Many thanks for mentioning the petition Neil and thank you for your support

  2. They have also started from April charging parking fees for workers whom work weekend and now nights at the trust. 1% pay rise(cut in inflation terms) has mostly gone back to the trust in parking charges.