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Hospital governor quits over "disgraceful" parking charge rises
5:05pm Friday 1st March 2013 in News
A DUDLEY Group governor has quit his role in protest over “disgraceful” planned parking charge hikes at borough hospitals as part of a bid to save £15million.
Car parking charges at Dudley’s Russells Hall Hospital, and the The Guest and Corbett Outpatient Centres, are set to rocket up by as much as 58 per cent as a result of efficiency savings, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust bosses have revealed.
The proposed new charges will mean visitors and patients will have to fork out £2 to park for up to an hour (up from £1.30), £3 for up to one-and-a-half hours (previously £1.90), £4 for one-and-a-half hours to three hours (up from £3.20) and £5.50 for all day (up from £5.40).
A free 30-minute drop-off window is also being scrapped and replaced with a £1 charge. Instead motorists will have just ten-minutes of free parking/waiting time.
Bill Etheridge, who was an elected governor for Dudley North, has branded the charges “totally unacceptable” and has resigned from his post in protest at the move which will hit patients and their relatives hard.
He said: “This is a tax on the sick and their families at a time when people in Dudley are struggling to make ends meet.
“As a governor I was not given an opportunity to have any input into these decisions.
“I feel that remaining in my post would be seen as giving support to measures I totally disagree with.”
Mr Etheridge, chairman of Dudley and Halesowen UKIP, also went on to say he tried his best to represent borough residents but the role of hospital governor had “no real power or authority attached to it”.
The charges, due to come into force from April 1, are part of a package of measures drawn up by hospital bosses to save £15million in the next financial year (2013-14).
Paula Clark, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We do not take decisions to increase charges to patients lightly and the new charges bring the cost of our parking in line with many other Trusts locally.
“After negotiations with our PFI partners, who provide and manage car parking at our three hospital sites, we will share the benefit from the increases directly.
“The Trust will receive more than £300,000 per year which we will use to help with the provision our clinical services.
“We hope our patients and visitors will understand the financial pressures The Dudley Group is under, as all trusts are nationally, and agree it is preferable to make changes to car parking rather than reducing the services we offer our patients.”