Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron are due to meet this week with an MP who is campaigning for an end to “rip-off” car parking charges for NHS staff and patients.
Last week the health secretary acknowledged that parking costs at some hospitals “are just too high”, during a parliamentary debate.
The issue was raised in the Commons by Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, who said nurses and patients faced “ever-increasing” charges.
He is campaigning to scrap hospital car parking fees in England, bringing it into line with Wales and Scotland where parking is free.
Research by Mr Halfon has found 79% of hospitals in England charge to park on site. The average charge for parking for one hour nationally is £1.56, and £39.49 per week, but some of the worst offenders charge £4 for one hour of parking and over £500 for one week.
Both Mr Hunt and the prime minster have said they are prepared to meet with Mr Halfon to discuss his campaign. This meeting was scheduled to take place on Monday.
As previously reported by Nursing Times, more than 18,900 people have signed a e-petition set up by a healthcare assistant calling for free parking for NHS staff. The e-petition demands immediate action to end “disgraceful” parking charges for NHS workers and nurses in particular.
Edmund King, president of the motoring organisation the Automobile Association, said: “Excessive hospital parking charges can be a ‘Samaritan tax’ on hard-working nurses who often need to drive due to early and late shifts and a ‘sick tax’ for outpatients needing constant treatment.”