Charges for Disabled Parking at ELHT
09/08/2016, 08:20http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/14663713.Anger_over_new_hospital_parking_fee_charges/ A DECISION to bring in ‘disgraceful’ car parking charges to three hospitals have been branded a ‘kick in the teeth’. A report revealed that the fees are to be introduced for Accrington Victoria, Clitheroe Community Hospital and Pendle Community hospitals. These changes will see the centres fall into line with other East Lancashire Hospitals Trust sites Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Hospital, which already apply tariffs, and generate £200,000 for the trust. The scheme where disabled badge holders reclaim their fees when they park in general spaces if the disabled ones are full is also ending at all trust hospitals. James Maguire, acting director of estates at the trust, said the decision to charge for disabled parking was “extremely difficult” and was not taken “lightly”. Julie Cooper, Burnley’s MP, said the plan is an “absolute disgrace”. She said: “It is a kick in the teeth for people using and visiting hospitals. The NHS was established to be free at the point of need, this is simply not the case. This is the human cost of a government that refuses to prioritise the NHS. “It cannot be right to force the most vulnerable hospital users to effectively subsidise the health service. “I have already written to the chief executive of the trust to express my opposition to the decisions.” “I will be raising the whole issue of NHS funding with the secretary of state for health.” The car parking charges will be put in place from October this year. A former midwife who spent 40 years working in East Lancashire hospitals, Gladys Sandiford, said it was another way of making money from people. The former Rossendale councillor said: “I’m really annoyed. “If someone is suffering from a serious illness, having to worry about costs for parking just isn’t needed.” Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said: “It’s complete and utter disgrace, It’s a tax on the sick and those visiting them. “Parking at Clitheroe Community Hospital is bad enough but with a current overspill leading into Chatburn Road, the charges could put people off using the car park and making the issue worse.” With pressure on the NHS to save money, the trust has predicted it will gain £200,000 a year from the fees. County councillor Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health, said: “The trust should reconsider its plans because it’s going to see the most vulnerable in our communities suffer. “The cuts have been forced upon the trust, it’s having to find by any means possible to make ends meet. “The government needs to wake up and and not put the NHS at risk.” Russ McClean, chairman of Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said patients “deserved better”.