Kent

Medway Maritime Hospital blue badge parking charge

Disability campaigners have criticised a Kent hospital's decision to charge blue badge holders normal parking fees in its car park.

Registered disabled drivers currently park for free at Medway Maritime Hospital, in Gillingham.

The charity Mencap said it is concerned the new charges may discourage people from going to hospital to get the treatment they need.

But the hospital trust said it is creating fairness around concessions.

Clare Lucas, from Mencap, said: "The hospital talks about creating fairness but, if anything, this is creating a very unfair system.

"People who receive blue badges are usually on lower incomes or dependent on benefits and have less money to spend on things like parking charges.

"This is why you have something like the blue badge to give them that concession."

'Reduced rates'

Badge holders will be charged £1.50 for one hour's parking from Monday.

Director of operations at the hospital Patrick Johnson said the charge was not "simply about making money".

"We have additional concessions over and above the standard levels of concessions with the NHS," he said.

"We do give reduced rates to patients or visitors who come here frequently and also free for certain patient groups.

"On top of that we had this general concession for visitors with blue badges and what we've looked at is that that is unfair to the rest of the people who come here."

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