Ex-Councillor and local resident Martin Akehurst took the above photo last week of the disabled bays in the doctors’ surgeries car park after checking that none of the cars were displaying the disabled blue badge.
Martin said, “I was at the Bell Surgery at 12.15pm on Thursday 4 January. All four disabled spaces in their car park were taken by vehicles not displaying disabled badges. There were two disabled patients whose drivers could not stop. They were unable to enter the surgery and hence unable to make their appointments. This is totally and utterly unacceptable. One of the receptionists told me afterwards that two had staff badges on.”
Louise West, Practice Manager at the Bell Surgery said, “The car park for the surgeries is experiencing a huge pressure on spaces and we respectfully request that patients only use the car park for the duration of their appointment and we prioritise use for the disabled, frail, elderly and acutely unwell and ask patients to walk/park in town and walk where they can.
We decided that we should increase the number of disabled bays from 2 to 4 and so we have 4 disabled parking spaces together close to the surgery. The former 2 disabled bays are now used for Doctors (1 per surgery) to ensure they can get out to go on patient visits or nursing home visits.
The disabled bays are intended for the disabled and the frail so we would not always expect those parking in the disabled spaces to display a Blue Badge. We are clear to our staff that they are not permitted to park in the disabled bays and where possible to park in the staff bay so that staff can block each other in. Generally our staff will park in Waitrose if there are no spaces in the car park when they arrive for work and they then move their car when the 3 hours parking at Waitrose expires. It was extremely unfortunate and regrettable that two members of staff parked in the disabled bays last Thursday which we believe to be an isolated incident and all staff (including the staff who parked inappropriately) have been reminded of the car parking rules. Both surgeries are very sorry for any inconvenience this caused to patients.”
Sarah Moberley, Practice Manager at the Hart Surgery added, “As it is a private car park, blue badge rules do not apply and we have designated them for the disabled, frail and acutely unwell. Staff members are not supposed to park in these spaces and have been reminded of that recently. The most important thing for us is that these patients who cannot walk far are able to park in the car park which is why we ask the able-bodied to park elsewhere.”
Janet Waters who brings her 91 year old mother to the surgery said, “I may have been one of those parked in the spaces last week. If other spaces are full and I am bringing my elderly mother who has leg and heart problems to the surgery I park in those spaces which do not say blue badge holders.” Louise replied, “Your parking for bringing your Mum to her appointment was entirely appropriate – and precisely what we are trying to achieve. Sarah and I are both really anxious when we hear elderly or frail patients cannot get a parking space so pleased to hear you were able to park to bring your Mum for her appointment.”