16/03/2012

Rise In Hospital Parking Fees Criticised

New figures published have shown than more than a quarter of hospital trusts in England increased car parking charges for patients and visitors in the year to last April.

While some cut prices, others more than doubled them, according to data from 197 hospitals and mental health trusts.

A patients' group branded the fees as a "tax on the sick" and called for NHS parking to be free, as in most of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ministers however have said that making parking free would mean the care budget would lose £100m.

The figures show 28% of Trusts put up their car parking charges between 2010 and 2011, with only 16% reducing them.

Fees at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust jumped 112%, from an average of 67p an hour to £1.42, while North West London Hospitals NHS Trust charged £1.58 an hour on average, up 81% from 88p.

Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy described parking charges as "exorbitant".

"It is often money patients do not have in these troubled financial times and is a tax on the sick when people have already paid for their health service," she said.

"Hospitals should be properly supported by the government and should not have to rely on charging patients and visitors to park to make ends meet."

(H)


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