Hospital parking charges attacked
Parking costs at NHS hospitals have risen by as much as 150% since the summer, according to the Sunday Mirror.
A survey by the newspaper shows that the parking prices have continued to climb despite hospitals making £102 million in 2009.
Coalition ministers scrapped plans to end car parking fees in September, after Labour had promised to make it free for seriously ill and regular outpatients to leave their vehicle unattended over the next three years.
But the coalition says removing the parking fees would strip NHS coffers at a time when savings are needed.
Health charities and patients’ groups have been left unimpressed by the move and attacked the pressure it puts on sick people and their relatives.
Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said: “It’s opportunistic of NHS trusts to raise their car parking fees now. Patients don’t need further stress having to worry about parking meters. It’s an unfair tax on the sick.”
Meanwhile, Helen Rainbow, of Macmillian Cancer Support, blasted: “It’s those who need help most who suffer.”
An example of some of the price increases witnessed in the research are: a two-hour stay at Bishop Auckland Hospital in Co Durham rising from £1 to £2.50; a three-hour visit to Watford General in Herts costing £3.50, up from £3; two-hour stays at Darlington Memorial Hospital increased from £1.50 to £2.50; and Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, saw prices for all-day parking rise from £3.50 to £5.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said that it is up to individual hospital trusts to decide on how much they charge.