Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has today recommitted to ending NHS England hospital car parking charges, should the party win the next general election.
Ahead of a debate on hospital car parking charges today in parliament, Mr Corbyn branded them a “tax on sickness” during a visit to Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
“Labour is committed to ending NHS hospital car park charges in England”
Labour’s 2017 manifesto, published in May last year, the party claimed that all its new spending commitments were “fully costed and transparent”.
At the time, it pledged to increase the rate of insurance premium tax to 20% for private healthcare insurance products to fund the policy.
Mr Corbyn repeated today the party’s idea that it would replace the £174m that England’s hospitals currently raise from car parking charges by scrapping the subsidy for people that can afford it, rather than charging people who cannot.
Last year, a Freedom of Information request by the union Unison suggested some hospitals were charging nurses and other staff nearly £100 a month to park. Fellow union the GMB later claimed that some staff may sometimes be having to pay over £1,000 a year to park.
- Hospital nurses paying ‘extortionate’ charges to park
- Union attacks ‘grossly unfair’ car parking charges for NHS staff
This had resulted in reports of nurses having to rush out in between appointments to move their cars and avoid fines, noted Labour.
Mr Corbyn said: “It’s fundamentally wrong that out-patients, NHS workers and those visiting their loved ones are being forced to pay a tax on sickness.
“Patients and visitors should not be subsidising the profits of outsourced private contractors who run almost half of these hospital car parks or make up for Tory underfunding of our NHS,” he said.
He added: “Labour is committed to ending NHS hospital car park charges in England by making those who can afford private healthcare pay a bit more in tax.”
The majority of hospital parking is already free to staff in Scotland and Wales.
Nursing Times campaigned on the issue of parking charges in 2008-09. Our Free Parking campaign called on trusts to drop “unfair” charges for staff.