Hospital survey comes under fire

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A survey about hospital parking charges has been branded a farce by a health campaigner.

Edie Glatter of the Dacorum Hospital Action Group said the survey, which closed on Friday and was carried out by West Herts Hospitals Trust, was littered with leading questions.

“You felt as if you were being trapped into saying things you didn’t want to say,” she said.

The poll was launched by the trust’s new chief executive Samantha Jones, which runs Hemel Hempstead’s Urgent Care Centre, Watford and St Albans hospitals.

She wanted to hear the public’s views after it was announced that Blue Badge holders would have to start paying for parking and a bus service running between the three sites would be scrapped.

But Edie claims the survey does not meet strict codes of practice under the Market Research Society, which sets out that respondents should be able to provide information that reflects their view and should not be led towards a particular opinion.

Edie said: “Clearly leading questions such as ‘Do you think monies intended for patient treatment, equipment and other infrastructure should be used to provide free of subsidised parking?’ seems obvious and straightforward as no-one wants patient care to suffer and is therefore a leading question.

“But the charges cover items such as land charges, security, maintenance and road repairs.

“I couldn’t decide between any of the options for visitor parking charges. They did not address the problems of high charges or of never knowing how long you will be at the hospital when you attend.”

Trust director for strategy and infrastructure Louise Gaffney said: “The listening exercise was developed with the help of an external survey company and all the questions were reviewed and feedback incorporated from a number of patients, including Blue Badge Holders, union representatives and staff.”