A disabled man has been left paying for hospital parking more than six weeks after enquiring about a promise of free parking.
Earlier this year Mark Smith got caught up in the controversial new parking system at Chorley Hospital.
Wife Fiona spoke about the unnecessary stress it has caused Mark who suffers from a number of health complaints, including a rare hereditary illness, which leave him open to a simple cold turning into pneumonia.
In response to the Smith’s complaints, Paul Havey, Deputy Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said patients that visit the hospital frequently “should not pay for parking” with the promise of free parking for anyone who has a life threatening, lifelong condition that requires treatment twice or more per week.
Fiona, from Leyland, subsequently contacted Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – which runs Chorley Hospital – more than six weeks ago regarding this but has still to even receive an acknowledgement of her enquiry.
She said: “It has now been more than six weeks since I emailed varying people from the teaching hospitals to enquire how my husband can receive an exemption certificate or similar with no reply or acknowledgement.
“My husband continues to have treatment and appointments at Chorley and Preston hospital in the meantime and continues to pay.
“He is also waiting for another operation which will again entail even further hospital visits.
“For anyone else it’s a normal operation but because of his medical conditions it’s a very evasive and can be quite horrific, so I have no idea how long he could be in there.”
The couple have contacted Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle to help her campaign on the issue; himself a vocal critic of the new automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) parking system brought in by Buckshaw Village-based business Parking Eye.
Taking the Smith's concerns to the hospital, Paul Havey, Deputy Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said to the Lancashire Post: “Anyone who has a life threatening, lifelong condition that requires treatment twice or more per week, does not have to pay to park at our hospitals.
“We also have a reduced rate for patients who have to attend for treatment on two or more occasions per week, or for patients who are attending an appointment expected to last for longer than three hours or who have a number of separate appointments in a single day.
“Also patients who have parked for less than 30 minutes don’t need to visit the pay machine before leaving the car park.
“Patients are advised to speak to the clinical team who are providing their care, to find out if they are eligible for free or concessionary parking.
“If a patient does qualify for free or reduced cost parking they will be asked to complete a form and then will be given a parking voucher from the general office.
“If any of our patients wish to discuss any issues further they can contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01772 522972.”
It comes two weeks after Chorley Council’s Development Control Committee deferred a decision to approve the hospital’s new parking system, as recommended by the council’s planning officers.
The system was installed at Chorley Hospital in December 2018 and has been operating there since without planning approval from the council.
Committee members are set to visit the site as part of their decision to approve or reject the parking system.