A patient has accused hospital staff of being “prejudicial” against disabled people after several car parking spaces were taken away.

David Stephenson, 62, has grown tired of “empty promises” and called on West Hertfordshire NHS Trust to reverse its decision to block off disabled spaces at Watford General Hospital now.

Mr Stephenson, who visits the hospital as many as three times a week for dialysis treatment, says he and fellow patients have been struggling with the parking situation at the Vicarage Road site since June.

He says towards the end of June, 50 per cent (eight spaces) of the disabled parking was lost outside the renal clinic which he was told to due to storage of items relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Stephenson, who lives in Hemel Hempstead, says disabled parking has also been taken away near the main hospital entrance.

For weeks, Mr Stephenson has been trying to get the trust to reinstate the disabled parking spaces but his pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears.

Watford Observer:

The disabled car park outside the clinic which has shrunk in size by half

Watford Observer:

Mr Stephenson says disabled parking has also been lost near the hospital's main entrance

He said: “I know the trust needs temporary storage but why have they chosen the disabled area?

“I think the decision to take way disabled spaces was unfair and prejudicial – and the correspondence from the hospital has been particularly bad.

“They keep promising action but it is just empty promises. In fact, it is getting worse.”

Last week, Mr Stephenson was told his concerns would be taken to the hospital’s complaints service rather than find a solution now – prompting him to contact his MP Sir Mike Penning as well as make his concerns public.

The patient says a lack of available disabled parking means his wife has little option sometimes but to drop him off or pick him up on double yellow lines directly outside the clinic.

But because the road has been narrowed for storage, the vehicle blocks the road and can hold up ambulances.

Watford Observer:

The road is only wide enough for one vehicle

Mr Stephenson said: “After treatment, I can barely walk. I feel under pressure to get in or out if a car is trying to get through or an ambulance. But I can’t move quickly. There are other renal patients who are wheelchair bound who struggle.”

He counted half a dozen times when his wife has been unable to park in a disabled bay.

The 62-year-old was particularly aggrieved when a hospital staff member suggested he park in the hospital’s main car park – but Mr Stephenson said this was not a “realistic” option because he cannot walk up the hill.

Watford Observer:

David Stephenson

He said: "The answer is not to say that disabled people can park free elsewhere. That isn’t the point. We need to be close to the unit we visit.

"This is a terrible example of discrimination against disabled persons. We can’t climb that hill from the main car park."

Plans are in place to build a multi-storey car park at Watford General which will take away the need to walk up and down the hill – but this car park will not be completed until March 2022.

The Observer has contacted the hospital trust about Mr Stephenson’s situation but have yet to receive a response relating specifically to his concerns.