Update: Decision on Blue Badge Holder Car Park Charges
At the start of 2018 Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust introduced a new parking tariff for Blue Badge Holders (BBHs). The decision to introduce these fees was based on the need to provide an equitable parking service for all, and to help us improve and maintain disabled parking facilities across the site without taking money out of patient care. NHS Trusts do not receive any separate funds to manage hospital sites or provide and maintain car parks.
Parking charges are set by individual hospital sites and many other Trusts have already started to introduce BBH charges to those utilising the service.
The Trust has apologised that the decision was made without full engagement with patients and the public at the time and, having taken the concerns of BBHs and members of the community into consideration, took the decision to put a hold on BBH charges until we had undertaken a detailed review involving various stakeholders.
A Parking Reference Group was formed, chaired by Non-Executive Director Dr Rita Harris, and this included senior members of staff from the Trust, patient and visitor BBH representatives, members of the Trust’s Council of Governors, the Chair of Kingston Health Overview Panel and fellow RBK Councillors. The Trust also took legal advice to ensure that the review was compliant with the Public Sector Equality Duty guidelines and therefore a fair and robust process.
Throughout the review, the Trust has kept stakeholders informed of progress through reports to the Trust Board, the Council of Governors and Kingston Health Overview Panel.
The Trust has gathered views from close to 600 patients and local residents in a survey of car park users, 62% of whom either held blue badges themselves, or parked with someone who does. This sample is slightly larger than the number of patients who contributed to the national inpatient survey for the hospital last year, which gives us confidence in the validity of the messages we have heard.
The results of the survey told us that BBHs use the Hospital car park more frequently than other users; that their choice of mode of transport is more limited; and that they also take longer to reach the appropriate hospital department once parked.
The Trust already offers car parking concessions for the following groups where they have to spend longer on the hospital site:
The Reference Group assisted the Trust in considering the options and, although it was clear it would prefer no charges, in the context of charges proceeding, the Group recommended a flat rate fee. The Trust has made the decision, in consultation with those participating in the Reference Group, to charge a flat rate fee of £2.00 per day – the same rate that other users pay for the first hour.
Kingston Hospital will monitor the use of parking spaces to ensure disabled bays are provided as close as possible to the areas BBHs need to access most frequently and will also ensure that payment terminals are well lit and signposted. The Trust has already increased the number of disabled parking bays available from 33 to 45 with a further three planned in the near future.
The revised BBH car parking process will require a fair amount of organisation to set up and until this has been completed the Trust will maintain the current suspension of charges for BBHs. The Trust is expecting to introduce the reduced charge for BBHs on 7th January 2019 and will be communicating with patients and visitors in plenty of time prior to the launch to ensure that it is widely known and understood.
Notes to Editor
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Click here for the Blue Badge Holder Car Parking Review Report