Disabled parking problems have been a long standing issue with UHNS. Back in Sept 2012 the secretary of STAND gave this letter to Julia Bridgewater, the Chief Executive of UHNS.
Dear Julia Bridgewater,
I have asked questions about disabled parking at UHNS AGMs over the last 4 years as I realised that disabled people are missing appointments because they have been unable to find an appropriate parking spot.
Mike Brerton said he would look into this at the first AGM. I heard nothing more. Andrea Green said she would look at it and Mike Dixon arranged a meeting with her where I saw that on the plans it was obvious that there would be a problem. She said she would arrange a meeting for us to meet the planners. That was the last I heard about that. At the AGM last year when I raised the issue again Gavin said he would get back to me. He arranged for Elaine Andrews to come to see me to discuss the matter. I explained the problem and she said there would be a covered walkway with seats and wheelchairs. I said that this would not be a solution as some disabled people would be sitting in the cold for up to an hour before they could even get to the door.(Assuming 2 stops of half an hour every 50 metres) She said she would take up this issue and get back to me. I had to contact her and nothing had changed.
There is still an unresolved problem about disabled parking at the UHNS in that the nearest parking spot is too far away for disabled people to walk. i.e. It is more than 50 metres from the door. As I am sure you are aware, if someone can walk more than 50 metres then in the vast majority of cases they do not qualify for a blue badge, therefore although I acknowledge you have provided more disabled bays at the new hospital, these bays are not fit for purpose in that the majority of disabled people will struggle to use them.
Stoke-on-Trent Area Network for Disability have now taken up this issue as it means that the majority of disabled people will be unable to access the very service that they need for their health and well being and they would like to know how this is going to be resolved?
From then STAND has had conversations and contacts with various representative from UHNS about the inadequate positioning of the Blue Badge bays and then in Nov 2013 the hospital imposed parking charges on disabled people for the first time. We were already concerned that disabled people were disadvantaged by having to travel further than was safe for their health and the pay and display method chosen by the hospital meant that this distance was increased as they then had to travel back and forth to the pay and display machine before starting the journey that was already too far.
Promises that the following will be investigated:
that there will be Blue Badge Bays adjacent to the main entrance when the ambulances have been relocated.
that there will be additional Blue Badge Bays outside West Building when the area is relined.
that the layout of the main disabled car park will be looked at to see if it can be improved.
Said To Be In Place:
Volunteers available to help disabled people on the car parks.
STAND members are reporting that they have not seen any volunteers to help. It is obvious that there are not enough volunteers to staff a reliable service.
The distance disabled people have to travel is much too far and is putting extra strain on their health.
Machines are out of order on occasions.
Machines are too far away for disabled people to walk outside A&E.
An extra machine has now been put in place outside A&E.
Members in wheelchairs cannot get to the machines because of cars parked over the dropped kerb.
No large signs to say it is a pay and display. I am told that this will be sorted by the end of Feb14.
This has now been sorted out.
Signs on the machine far too small to read, especially in dim light.
If disabled people are to be charged for parking then the system used must not put disabled people at a disadvantage by forcing them to travel extra distance to and from the pay machines.
Appeal for help
All members are asked to write or email their MPs to highlight these issues. See MPs page
A member has started legal action for discrimination against UHNS as there does not appear to be any positive action toward obtaining a disability friendly pay system and disabled people are suffering.
In Aug 2014 the Government issued guidance to hospitals asking for free or concessionary parking for disabled people and a pay on exit parking system.Government Guidance on Hospital Parking Charges