Worcester News Article – 2nd May 2022

Hospital parking is an issue that has often been raised with us at Healthwatch Worcestershire. Especially in terms of car park capacity and being able to find somewhere to park. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic all parking charges were suspended. But two years on, from the beginning of April, the suspension was lifted and NHS Trusts may reinstate charges.

However, new guidance specifies that free parking must continue for disabled people who are blue badge holders, frequent outpatients attendees, parents of sick children who are staying overnight and staff working night shifts. The guidance recommends that NHS organisations should make sure that people can get to the site (and park if necessary) as safely, conveniently and economically as possible. Concessions, including free or reduced charges, should be available for carers and visitors in certain circumstances, for example when a relative is gravely ill.

The guidance also states that clear information should be available about parking and any charges, both on site and in advance of attending, such as on websites and with appointment letters.

We contacted both the Worcestershire Acute Hospital NHS Trust and Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust to ask about their intentions in relation to implementing the new guidance. The Acute Trust who run Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Kidderminster Hospital, have told us that they have not yet reintroduced any parking charges at their hospitals, but plan to review this mid May.

The Health and Care Trust run the Community Hospitals in Worcestershire, in Bromsgrove, Malvern, Evesham, Tenbury and Pershore, in addition to inpatient rehabilitation and mental health units. They told us that while they do not plan to reinstate staff parking charges until September, they have reintroduced general charges for visitors. They confirmed that they are complying with the new guidance, including providing free parking for blue badge holders and visitors of longer stay patients and are publicising this in their patient welcome packs.

As with all issues related to local health and social care services, we welcome your feedback, so please see the News post below to read the new guidance and visit the Tell Us page to share your experiences with us anonymously. You can also contact us on 01386 550264 or info@healthwatchworcestershire.co.uk