Lincolnshire hospitals to charge disabled car park users

Blue badge in car window Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Blue badge charges will be introduced for the first time in Grantham, Boston and Lincoln

An NHS Trust is to charge disabled drivers to park at hospitals in Lincolnshire for the first time.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) is introducing a charge for blue badge holders and will increase general prices by about 10%.

The trust said it had not raised charges since 2009 and income from parking had reduced because of a rise in VAT.

Some patient groups said the increases were unfair.

Under the plans, the cost for an hour's stay at Lincoln County Hospital, Grantham Hospital and Boston Pilgrim Hospital, would go up from £1.20 to £1.40, with the introduction of a charge for blue badge holders of £1.50 a day.

'Petty and spiteful'

The trust said it had compared charges with other regional hospitals, some of which already charge blue badge holders, and found the increases were needed to ensure parking was funded properly.

Paul Boocock, of ULHT, said: "The aim of the increase is that the income we receive from parking meets the cost of running the facilities."

He said the introduction of a "small charge" for blue badge holders would raise about £96,000 per year.

He added that measures were already in place for patients in receipt of certain benefits to claim their travel expenses.

David Mitchell, county chairman of the British Polio Fellowship, said: "I know all about the dreadful problems they [ULHT] have with finance but I cannot for the life of me understand why they are proposing something as petty and spiteful as charging a few disabled people for parking."

The trust, which was heavily criticised by the Keogh Review and placed in special measures, slipped an extra £2.7m into the red in October.

It was also predicted to fail to meet its targeted deficit of £17m by the end of the financial year.

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