"Royal Free Hospital parking fines for disabled people"

About: Royal Free Hospital / Cardiology

(as the patient),

I am 85 year old man with a pacemaker due to 'heart failure' and have to have regular blood tests at the Royal Free Hospital to check that everything is right with the prescribed Warfarin.

During my last two visits, as usual, I parked in the two storey car park that serves the Royal Free Hospital, London, NW3. There are Blue Badge disabled parking bays on the ground level, but as these are usually full, I had to park in normal parking bays on both these last two occasions.

Subsequently, I received two parking tickets, in the post, from Parking Eye, demanding £50 parking fee.

I went into the hospital, and spoke to Patient Liaison Service, who cancelled one of the tickets, as she stated that the system had just been brought in, and thus was sympathetic to my case, but she refused to cancel the second ticket, saying that she was not able to cancel tickets that originated from 'illegal' parking after 11th, as that was their cut off date.

It used to be that Blue Badge holders could park on normal bays if they displayed their badge. Parking Eye must have recently taken over the parking at the car park. Apparently PALS are cancelling tickets that originated before 11th, as patients are not aware of the change in conditions, despite notices being put up.

I think it is shocking that there was not a disabled bay available for me to park in and that I have been given another parking ticket. The woman who dealt with me at Patient Liaison Service was incredibly rude and did not help at all with the second ticket, and it was like being in a circus. At this late stage in my life, and with my heart condition, the one thing I really do not need is to have to go to court.

Why on earth do disabled patients at the hospital have to put up with this disgraceful treatment? It is not like I can hop on a bus to get to the hospital, and I am not a millionaire.

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Response from Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback and we are sorry that you are unhappy with the experience you have had of our parking services.

Blue badge holders can park for free in our designated blue badge bays. We have a total of 12 blue badge spaces, seven of which are located at the Pond Street entrance and the remainder by the A&E entrance. This represents 11% of the total number of spaces available (the required allocation under the Disability Discrimination Act is 10%).

We have recently introduced a four-hour wait limit to these spaces to ensure a regular turnover and availability. This four-hour wait is in line with parking waiting times locally and at neighbouring hospitals (when patients need to stay longer due to delays in clinic or additional diagnostic tests, they can report to main reception and no charge will be applied).

We’re sorry that on this occasion you found that the blue badge spaces were full. We anticipate that now the system is fully introduced that availability will be much improved. We also have plans to introduce more blue badge spaces in the near future.

We understand from the second message that you have posted that you have now been refunded for both parking tickets. We’re glad this has now been resolved. In future we hope that you will not have a problem finding an available blue badge space. Regular charges do apply for non blue badge spaces but if you are in receipt of a benefit you may be eligible to claim back your mileage to and from hospital under the hospital travel costs scheme. You can do this by visiting our cashier’s office.

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