PARKING at the DGH has come under fire from disabled and elderly patients in the same week the Trust which runs the hospital was given an award for its car park.
Earlier this year staff from East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, quizzed patients about parking provisions - particularly those for less able visitors.
And, after studying the results, the Trust decided to set up specific parking bays for blue badge holders.
The hospital now has 40 space set aside for disabled people out of 326 total parking slots, offering three hours of free parking.
However, the move has also meant badge holders no longer qualify for free parking in the main car park – a move which has been heavily criticised by some locals.
One of those disgruntled locals, Nigel Hewitt, said the way the hospital was treating its disabled and elderly patients was “disgusting,” arguing many were left having to traipse further than before to the entrance.
Mr Hewitt, 46, of Tenterden Close, said his elderly parents, who both regularly use the DGH, were worried about the new bays.
He said, “My mother had a heart bypass some six years ago and suffers greatly with swollen and painful legs and my father has angina.
“I know these are low priorities in the bigger picture but none the less this move will lead to greater discomfort and I dread to think how problematic it could be for someone who struggles with a stick.
“The parking at the DGH was sufficient and made easily within the reach of most if not all disabled persons.
“If you go to other areas such as the Crumbles you will find disabled parking slots as close to the doors as possible.
“You would think the DGH would have similar or perhaps better. No. It is around the side where there used to be staff parking only.
“This means that to enter the hospital main entrance the distance is trebled.
“Would it not be fairer and more just to replace the disabled parking areas closer to the main entrance and instead use the current disabled parking for paying persons?”
George Melling, commercial director at the trust, said it took the issue very seriously and that extensive research had gone into finding the best place to put the parking bays.
He said, “We have listened to blue badge holders’ feedback about their current parking arrangements and we have increased the number of disabled spaces and put them closer to the entrances to the hospital, reducing the travel distance before entering the hospital.
“Additional signage will be put in place to direct blue badges holders to these new spaces and away from the barrier controlled pay on exit car park which will no longer have any free disabled parking spaces.”
Earlier this week the trust was told it had retained its Park Mark Safer Parking Award – an accreditation run by police to encourage those responsible for car parks to improve security.
John Kirk, trust facilities manager, said, “The award is recognition of improvements made to the sites in recent years through the security, parking, grounds and gardens and maintenance teams.”