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Disabled charged for hospital parking

DISABLED visitors to Maid- stone Hospital must now pay for parking. New regulations were intro-

duced in January,meaning peo- ple who had previously shown their blue badge to get free park- ing at the Hermitage Lane site must now pay the same as able- bodied patients. A spokesman for the Maid-

stone and TunbridgeWells NHS Trust said the charges had been introduced to bring the hospital in line with the new Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury. The spokesman said:“We offer

30 minutes’ free parking and there is a 30-minute grace period from when you have paid to when you leave the car park, which gives our less mobile vis- itors the time to get to their vehi- cle. Our payment machines are close to the main entrance.” Disabled bays are marked out

in both hospital car parks, and concessions are available for both able-bodied and disabled patients falling into a number of categories, including those un- dergoing


chemotherapy and dialysis and parents visiting children. Natalie Smith, chairman of Maidstone Disability Forum,

was not happy. She said: “Maidstone Disabil-

ity Forum is disappointed that the hospital has decided to in- troduce this parking charge. “People with disabilities

often have reduced incomes and a higher than average num- ber of hospital appointments – it’s a double whammy. “It’s a further disappointment

that the hospital chose not to consult with the forum before imposing these changes – we may have been able to reach a more equitable compromise.” When asked whether patients whose appointments were de- layed would have their parking fee refunded, the spokesperson said: “Maidstone and Tun- bridge Wells NHS Trust has no formal policy regarding the re- duction of parking costs for pa- tients whose appointments are significantly delayed. “At this time, if a patient’s ap- pointment is delayed, it is at the discretion of the outpatient’s clinic manager whether or not that patient’s parking charge is reduced. If it is, the arrange- ment is made via the manager and the car parking office at Maidstone, or reception at Tun- bridgeWells.”



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Boost for cardiac patients

MAIDSTONE and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust launched a new service last week, which means some cardiology pa- tients will no longer have to travel to London hospitals for their treatment. The EPS (Electrophysiologi-

cal Studies and Ablation) Service is based in the cardiac catheter lab atMaidstone Hos- pital and will be used by pa- tients needing treatment for abnormal heart rhythms. In the past, people needing

this kind of treatment would have been referred to St Thomas’s or King’s College Hospitals in London. For many patients and their fami- lies this would have been lo- gistically difficult and stressful. The Maidstone-based serv-

ice is the first of its kind in Kent. The trust has employed two new consultant cardiolo- gists, Dr Laurence Nunn and Dr Dennis Caulfield, who will be assisted by Dr Mike Cook- lin from St Thomas’ Hospital,

Ward re-opened ROMNEY Ward has been re- opened to provide care to pa- tients waiting to be returned to their own homes or to a place in the community where specific needs can be met.

to oversee the early stages of the service. Dr Nunn said: “Most of the

cases we treat will be day cases, with no need for the pa- tient to be admitted to hospital overnight. “We are expecting to treat

about 80 cases within the next year and as we are the first trust in Kent to offer an EPS service of this kind, it’s a very exciting time for us.” Chief executive of the trust, Glenn Douglas, said: “Our first three patients were seen last week. I was privileged to see the care these patients re- ceived first-hand and can gen- uinely say that it is life-changing for them. “Patients who were previ-

ously managing their condi- tions through medication left hospital the same day able to live normal lives. “This is another extremely positive step forward for the trust to ensure we provide the very best care and services for our patients.”

Walk-in unit success THE new urgent medical walk- in unit in the former Monckton Ward, which will reduce hospi- tal admissions, has now opened. It is seen by the trust as “a great success”.

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