Veterans’ parking decision delayed

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A DECISION on whether war veterans will be able to claim back costs to park at hospitals has been delayed.

Former Royal Air Force medic Dr Derek Hall previously appeared in the Hartlepool Mail hitting out at what he sees as “discriminatory” parking charges at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

 Under the scheme, blue badge holders who receive benefits, such as income-based jobseeker’s allowance, working tax credit or pension credit, can reclaim the cost of hospital travel, including parking charges.

 But this does not apply to permit holders who claim a war pension, something which Dr Hall, 61, has condemned.

Following a meeting with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Alan Foster and the trust’s commercial director Kevin Oxley last week, trust executives had promised to look into the situation

A decision on whether war pensioners could be included in those who can reclaim costs was expected yesterday. But a trust spokeswoman said it was still waiting for legal advice.

Dr Hall, who lives in Wingate, said: “I don’t see why there should be a delay.

“It’s discrimination against a particular type of pension recipient.”

Dr Hall said he had received support over the matter, including from the Spinal Injuries Association and the Disabled Motorists Federation.

The trust, which needs to save £40m from its £260m budget over the next three years, had said the decision not to include war pensioners in the reclaiming scheme follows guidelines set out by the Department of Health.

 But the Department of Health and the Veterans’ Agency, which issues war pensions, said parking charge decisions are taken by individual trusts.