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‘Cancer means I have to pay more to park in Queen’s Hospital’ - disabled Hornchurch woman

16:00 31 October 2012

Rod and Pauline Driscoll

Rod and Pauline Driscoll

Archant

A disabled couple from Hornchurch believe car parking rules at Queen’s Hospital are penalising them for visiting the cancer unit.

Pauline Driscoll, 71, is being treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the Romford hospital’s oncology department. Mrs Driscoll’s husband Rod, 69, said the couple’s blue badges enabled them to park free of charge in the hospital’s surface level car park, but that they are not recognised in the “pink zone” where his wife is now being treated – meaning she is effectively charged extra for having cancer.

“They’re penalising us,” said Mrs Driscoll, of Nelson Close. “I’d rather worry about my treatment. It’s quite aggravating with everything else.”

Mr Driscoll said: “It’s a mess. How come you can park free in one area and not the other? It doesn’t add up.”

Mr Driscoll added his wife’s problems with mobility meant she couldn’t walk the 400 metres from the disabled car park to the cancer department. “To come from the main car park down to the oncology department isn’t on,” he said.

“I can’t see why you don’t have to pay in the main parking area with a blue badge, but if you have cancer you do in the pink zone.”

Under Queen’s rules, patients attending hospital to receive active treatment such as chemotherapy can still park free, whether they are disabled or not, but cancer patients seeing a doctor for follow-ups or tests cannot.

A spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, which runs Queen’s, said parking was managed by private company Sodexo.

“We have far more disabled parking spaces on site than we are required to provide,” she added. “We are also one of the few trusts to offer free parking to patients undergoing treatment for cancer.

“There are limited spaces in the oncology car park, so it is important that that they are earmarked for those having active chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment.”

Kajal Odedra, campaigns officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Cancer patients having follow-up appointments after treatment for a potentially life-threatening disease should not be penalised by having to pay unavoidable costs such as hospital parking.

“These charges are a huge burden for cancer patients who have already typically made 53 trips to hospital during treatment. It is morally wrong that hospitals are profiting from this tax on illness.

“We want every hospital in England to follow government guidance and provide free or concessionary parking for cancer patients travelling regularly to hospital.”

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