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Adapted Car Hire News Updates: Charging for disabled parking at hospitals could be ‘unlawful’

Thirty-seven NHS trusts responded to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request admitting they charge disabled drivers to park, which one leading lawyer says could be against the law.

Some of the trusts which charge disabled drivers for parking say they do so because all drivers should be treated equally. However, disability rights lawyer Chris Fry told the BBC 5 Live Investigates programme, which issued the FOI request, that this was a misreading of UK equality law.

Fry said: “Inevitably it will cost someone more to park because of their disability, and that must be clearly wrong; treating somebody less favourably as a result of their disability amounts to a breach of the Equality Act.

Disabled patient Sue Groves has begun legal action against Medway NHS Foundation Trust, which recently took the decision to charge blue badge holders, because she says it places additional barriers for disabled people to seek medical support.

“It takes longer for disabled people to get from A to B, so they’re likely to incur higher charges,” she said.

“The public transport links aren’t great to Medway Hospital. There’s a distinct lack of accessible taxis and if you’re a wheelchair user the buses are quite difficult at times – they’re not all accessible – which means that disabled people and blue badge holders haven’t got the choice that other people have.”

“I think they’ve looked across the board and said ‘equality is about equal treatment, so we’re going to make it fairer by charging blue badge holders, but they haven’t actually thought of the implications of that.”

The Medway NHS Foundation Trust website says: “The Trust has recently reviewed car parking concessions and a decision has been taken to charge blue badge holders normal parking fees from 2 July 2012. This is to create fairness around concessions and to generate income for the Trust as pressure on budgets continues.”

Adapted Vehicle Hire offers a Car & Driver service which frees customers from the worry of parking. They can be picked up and dropped off at their convenience and can choose from a range of wheelchair accessible vehicles, with named drivers who are trained to meet the specific needs and requirements of each individual.

In other news, the bus operator Arriva North East has been taken to court this week, after failing to provide “reasonable adjustments” for disabled passengers.

I-drive is an information hub for people with disabilities. It is part of Adapted Vehicle Hire, the specialist rental vehicle provider of adapted cars and wheelchair accessible vehicles. Click here to find out more.