Letter of the week

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from Sarah Wiles, director of strategy and infrastructure, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust

Further to your report (Gazette, June 15) regarding the Trust’s new car parking concessions, I thought I would take the opportunity to explain the full range of parking concessions on the Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans hospital sites.

This was not mentioned in the article and I would welcome an opportunity to clarify this for your readers who may need to use our services in the future.

Parking charges are an emotional issue, but I would like to stress it is not an area in which the Trust makes a profit – in fact we still make a loss under the current schemes.

Every penny spent on subsidising car parking is a penny not spent on providing patient care. The changes we are introducing provide more concessions for more people than is currently the case.

Under the new parking concessions, which come into force on July 1, all patients and visitors who attend a ward or department in any of our three hospitals on a frequent basis, are entitled to discount parking.

This reduction was previously only available to a small percentage of people visiting our hospital sites.

Relatives who are actively participating in the care of a patient staying on a hospital ward will also be entitled to a reduced parking rate. This again was not available under the previous scheme.

Furthermore, there is a new option for people attending hospital on a long-term basis, whether as a patient or visitor.

They are now able to purchase a ticket for £24 which allows them to park as often as they need to over a four-week period.

I think it is also worth mentioning, that as well as the extensive concessionary parking rates, there is free parking for disabled users and free 30-minute parking bays on each of our hospital sites.

This new tariff came about as a result of discussions with patients, visitors and staff who felt that the Trust’s concessionary parking rates were not broad enough and needed to be fair to as many patients, carers and visitors as possible.

I believe that the changes the Trust has made to the concessionary parking scheme makes it by far a fairer scheme.

It allows more people to get discount parking on our sites.

In fact, we have already taken a number of calls from patients booked to be admitted to one of our hospitals in the future who are delighted to find that their relatives are now entitled to discount parking where previously they were not.

This is just one of a wide variety of lively letters that appear in the pages of The Gazette each and every week. If you want to keep abreast of what’s going on, and have your say on the issues that matter to you and affect you, pick up a copy of The Gazette, on sale now, priced just 55p.