People’s experience at hospitals starts with their journey from home and, for those travelling by car, parking at hospital is part of that journey. People are often not looking forward to attending hospital, so parking on arrival should be without difficulties.
There have been recent changes to parking systems and charges by the two main hospital Trusts which serve the people of Kirklees; Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust (MYT) and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT). Healthwatch Kirklees are concerned about the impact of these changes on patient and visitor experience, particularly for those on low incomes and who are in most need of additional support when parking at hospitals.
Changes to parking at CHFT came into effect in April 2015, including increased charges and a decision to start charging blue badge holders for their parking.
At MYT, changes to parking charges were implemented from August 2015. The changes include increased charges, capped charges for blue badge holders and plans for a new ‘pay on exit’ system at Dewsbury Hospital. There will also be waiting periods of up to 14 days before visitors will be eligible for special discounted rates for long stays, acute care and those accessing maternity and paediatric services. Healthwatch Kirklees were consulted on the increased charges at MYT and acknowledged that if change was inevitable then those changes should be widely publicised, along with information relating to concessions being easily accessible to patients and visitors.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust
The majority of comments we received have been regarding difficulties with parking at Acre Mills, Huddersfield. This is a new facility, opened in February 2015, which provides many outpatient clinics which were previously located in the main Huddersfield Royal Infirmary building. The car park at Acre Mills uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology which is used to monitor how long people have stayed in the car park ensures people have paid for the time they have stayed. People also have to pay on entry rather than on exit. Across the Trust, blue badge holders now have to pay the same rate as others to park in accessible spaces in hospital car parks.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Healthwatch Kirklees haven’t received much feedback from patients and visitors about their experience of parking at the hospitals within Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. In light of recent increases to parking charges there, a member of staff visited Dewsbury and Pinderfields Hospital to assess the information available to people using the car parks.
On the pay stations there is very limited information regarding concessions, for example, “parking concessions may be available if you are visiting for more than seven or fourteen days, you will need to retain your parking receipt to qualify, see leaflet”. It doesn’t tell people where to get further information from, or where to obtain the leaflet referred to.
People are directed to the General Office for further information on concessions; when our staff member spoke to a member of staff there they were told they would need to produce 3 pieces of evidence in order to be reimbursed; a bus ticket, an appointment letter and proof of benefits. It is unclear how someone would be aware of this before visiting the hospital.
MYT’s website has recently been updated to show increases to charges, changes to qualifying periods and how to obtain concessions. The website also contains a link to a comprehensive patient information leaflet, – How to find us and other useful
We have spoken to Ian Brodie, General Manager at MYT and he is in the process of changing the car parking concessionary guidance into policy so that it is very clear to staff, patients and visitors what is/is not available. There are also plans to improve signs on pay stations and to look into the evidence people are asked to produce when requesting reimbursement.