Taking the pain out of parking

Hospital car parking can be a highly emotive issue, given the diverse needs and concerns of the customers involved. With the publication of MacMillan Cancer Support’s ‘Cancer Costs’ report in June 2006, and the more recent consultation study by the Department of Health (January 2007), the issue of travel and parking costs for patients has come to the fore.
Reading the facts on costs of travel and parking for patients undergoing long-term treatments at hospitals, it’s easy to understand why the topic is subject to negative publicity. As at June 2006, only five out of 52 cancer centres with car parks across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales offered free parking for all cancer patients attending appointments. With patients travelling to appointments an average of 53 times, and spending an average of £325 during the course of their treatment, it is entirely understandable that lobby groups are calling for a reform to the system.
VINCI Park is one of the few parking providers in the UK to have tackled the issue of parking for patients undergoing long-term treatments. In collaboration with NHS Tayside, VINCI Park has developed an innovative solution to benefit both patients with long-term treatment needs, and disabled car park patrons.
Listening to customers
In mid-2006 NHS Tayside approached VINCI Park with their concerns about charging parking fees to patients requiring long-term treatments. More specifically, Ninewells Hospital & Medical School wished to give these patients free parking permits, but was concerned about the financial repercussions for the hospital.
As a solution to this issue, it was agreed that 2,800 free parking permits would be made available each month for patients requiring regular hospital visits for treatment purposes, such as chemotherapy or dialysis. However, in order to fund the provision of these permits it became necessary to introduce a tariff for ad-hoc disabled car park users paying to park their car onsite. This tariff was also introduced for the purpose of preventing the abuse of off-street disabled parking.
After approval from NHS Tayside the disabled car park was fitted with five Pay & Display machines, and the new tariff structure became operational on 1st September 2006. Without any accurate forecast, neither the trust nor VINCI Park was certain at the outset as to the level of income that would be generated from the disabled parking tariff. However, after three months of operation it was discovered that the programme was generating revenue in excess of that needed to provide the free parking permits for patients receiving
long-term care.

Shop Mobility service
With this in mind, VINCI Park proposed to NHS Tayside that the surplus money generated could be used to benefit the disabled patrons, who previously had received free parking. The proposal concerned the provision of a free shop mobility service, tailored to the hospital environment, including the installation of a state-of-the-art reception office and the provision of mobility scooters. The Shop Mobility proposal aims to promote equality of access to the hospital for all users and to encourage independence of people with disabilities through the provision of mobility equipment.
The Shop Mobility service is scheduled to launch in July 2007, and is attracting considerable local interest. VINCI Park’s Chief Executive Mark Evans comments: “By working closely in partnership with NHS Tayside, we were able to understand the specific operational and service needs of the hospital. We could then accordingly design and implement an innovative solution.” As is often the case, significant private sector investment was required from the outset of the contract to fund the construction of new car parks - including a multi-storey car park - and the installation of control equipment.              

Add to this the cost of ongoing maintenance and improvement schemes, day-to-day patrolling and enforcement, and you begin to understand why it is necessary to charge motorists to park. However, NHS Tayside and VINCI Park have proved by working in partnership that it is possible to design and provide additional services that benefit two very deserving customer groups, at no added cost to the hospital.

Sources: Consultation on the Hospital Travel Costs Scheme, Department of Health, Jan 2007. Cancer Costs: The Hidden Price of Getting Treatment, MacMillan Cancer Support, June 2006

For more information
Contact: Danielle Mothes, Marketing Manager
Tel: 020 7481 1272 (ext 2359)
Email: danielle.mothes@vincipark.co.uk
Web: www.vincipark.co.uk