Beds, Herts & Bucks

West Hertfordshire NHS Trust in disabled parking charge U-turn

Plans to charge disabled drivers for parking at some Hertfordshire hospitals have been dropped, an NHS trust has said.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust had considered charging blue badge holders for parking at hospitals in Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

It said the plan was scrapped after a survey of 3,000 people showed a majority were against the change.

A spokesman from Disability Watford said "common sense had prevailed".

In January, the trust announced proposals to charge for disabled parking and to axe the staff bus service between the hospitals.

'Over the moon'

But new trust chief executive Samantha Jones put the plans on hold in March, deciding to ask people for their opinion on hospital transport options and parking charges.

Data was collated from responses to 25 questions by 3,000 people, including hospital staff, by a survey company.

The trust said there had been "careful consideration of the full analysis and the comments received".

It said it was currently reviewing its car parking management contract and would continue to work with transport groups to improve the current arrangements.

Ms Jones said: "Our decisions [have been based] on the views expressed from the respondents, the discussions we have had in open forum, the trust's responsibility to delivering quality services with the money available and with the balance of what feels the right thing to do," she said.

Leigh Hutchings from Disability Watford said he was "over the moon".

"It's nice to see that common sense has prevailed," he said.

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