HOSPITAL bosses have moved to assure disabled drivers they won’t be affected by a new parking scheme.
The ParkingEye system, which uses automatic number plate recognition to record vehicles entering and leaving the site, was launched at South Tyneside District Hospital at the turn of the year.
But since then, disabled visitors to the Harton Lane site in South Shields, have expressed confusion about what they need to do.
The scheme still allows visitors to pay on arrival, but payments can also be made before leaving the hospital grounds, and anyone who stays after the time period they initially paid for can “top-up” their tickets.
The Gazette was contacted by some blue badge holders concerned that their exemption from parking fees would not be recognised, but Helen Ray, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust chief operating officer, said: “I can confirm that disabled (blue) badge holders continue to be exempt from car parking charges at South Tyneside District Hospital, although they are required to register annually by supplying the blue badge serial number and the vehicle registration number. It is important to submit a new application for exemption from parking charges when a blue badge expires.”
However, users of the Gazette’s website were critical of hospital parking charges.
One user, using the online name ‘mackemboy’, said: “This new system is nothing at all to do with improving efficiency for visitors.
“It is all about stopping the practice whereby some people pass on unused ticket time to others, thereby preventing some people getting free parking if the leaver of the car park has over-paid and got away early.” ‘Oswin’ added: “Hospital parking charges are a form of extortion, a scam to supplement NHS income.
“The fact is it should be free. When you go to hospital you’re already stressed, if you’re visiting an elderly relative who is seriously ill or if a loved one is hurt.
“You don’t want the bother of getting a ticket, you just want to park up, go inside and get help.
“If they’re rigid about charging, I suggest they take a look at the Freeman Hospital – its pay-when-you-go system is much less hassle.”
But ‘Manors’ said: “They have no reason to stop charging. If the car parks are already full to bursting whilst they are charging, why on earth would they stop charging?”
To register your blue badge, go to the hospital reception or contact ParkingEye on 0844 247 2984, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org