Peter Lapsley: Temporary disabled badges

Peter Lapsley

Now that I no longer have an axe to grind (recovery from the revision surgery on last year’s failed whole hip replacement appears to be going well), I would be interested in doctors’ reactions to the argument for the introduction of temporary disabled badges.

During the six months I waited for surgery, I was in considerable pain and had increasing difficulty in both standing and walking. Many people wait longer for hip replacements and with greater disabilities.

The disabled (“blue”) badge scheme in England is administered by local authorities. Although a badge must be renewed every three years, it is effectively permanent. It confers considerable privileges on the holder who may, with certain restrictions (chiefly in London), park in disabled bays in car parks, park free of charge at a parking meter or in pay-and-display bays, park without a time limit at places where others are time limited, and park for up to three hours on single or double yellow lines, except where there is a ban on loading or unloading or other restrictions.

I would argue that people waiting with disabling hips requiring replacement or other temporary disabilities should be able to apply for a (say) three month badge, renewable for up to a year in quarterly increments when necessary. It may be that such temporary disabled badges might carry with them a more limited range of privileges than the “permanent” ones, although the temporarily disabled may, for the time being, be no less disabled than the permanently disabled. But simply being allowed to park in disabled bays, for limited periods on single yellow lines and for unlimited periods in time limited parking bays would have made my wait for surgery considerably more tolerable. As it was, I spent far more time than I might have wished looking for vacant pay-and-display bays close to the places for which I was heading, and fuming at the numbers of badgeless cars hogging the disabled bays in supermarket car parks.

The process for applying for the current effectively permanent disabled badges is quite complex. For temporary ones it could arguably be simpler – a diagnosis, assessment of disability and prognosis (including, perhaps, the date of intended surgery), signed by one’s GP or consultant ought to suffice. With the exception of those on specified benefits, patients could quite properly be required to pay reasonable administrative costs for providing the doctor’s certificate and the badge.

It would be helpful to know whether GPs and interested consultants would support such a scheme.

Peter Lapsley is the patient editor of the BMJ.

  • As a patient's daughter, I would support this wholeheartedly. My mother also received her blue badge while waiting for her hip op, but continues to use it 18 months later. I firmly believe that it has actually hampered her post-op rehab by encouraging her to park as close as possible to the shops / doctors' surgery / post office / wherever when, in fact, she needs to be pushing herself to walk further.

  • Leave the system as it is now, it's already complicated enough in many areas.

    The criteria to which councils give out Blue Badges seem to be different all over the country, some only hand one out for a year..

  • Edwolf88

    i just been in touch with my local council for a blue badge not knowing that tempory one's are not issued. i am also one who is waiting for a total hip replacement.
    i am in awfull pain when standing, sitting and walking, i feel that i am now under house arrest as i do not go through the door very often. tried going to the local baths for some excersise but cannot walk from the back of the car park. so i stopped going. same problem shopping. even going to the hospital is so terrible as again not using the disabled parking bays makes my life hell.
    just hope something is done

  • Ann Emery

    I am to have a talonvicaular fusion in my left ankle/foot and will not be able to put that foot to the ground for 6 weeks, be in plaster for 3 months, keep the foot raise for 55 out of every 60 minutes, and am expected to use crutches when my BMI is 40 – I have not got the strength to use crutches.  Losing weight has not been easy as I cannot exercise because of the pain.  I have tried to get a disabled blue badge on a temporary basis. – They wil not budge,  Is there anybody out there who knows how to by pass this stupid rule.  Will anybody with sense change it.  I shall be house bound for 3 months, as anyone who is kind enough to take me out will not be able to park near the shops of wherever.  And of course there is no guarantee that it will work, and so then after 6 months they will look at my case again.  It is hard enough to walk the 100m now.