Hospitals in England are making hundreds of millions of pounds from car parking charges, with more than 40% of NHS trusts increasing the cost of a stay in the past year.
(This blog has campaigned long and hard against these iniquitous charges, but they continue to increase to the detriment of patiens, visitors and even staff.)
An investigation using freedom of information requests found some trusts have doubled the price of car parking for patients and visitors.
Analysis of data published by NHS Digital in October shows trusts made more than £226m in 2017-18 from parking, including penalty fines.
A total of 124 NHS trusts in England responded to the Press Association requests on parking charges, with 53 (43%) reporting an increase in prices in the past year for visitors or staff, or both. The remaining 71 (57%) said they had not put up their prices.
NHS hospitals made a record £174m from charging patients, visitors and staff to park in 2016/17, up 6% on the previous year.
Data from 111 hospital trusts across England shows that as many as two-thirds are making more than £1m a year. More than half of trusts now charge disabled people to park.
Some trusts defended the charges, saying they were essential to pay for patient care. But opposition parties and patient support groups were critical, with one group saying they were “cynical” but blaming the state of NHS finances rather than the trusts themselves.
The Liberal Democrats condemned the charges as a “tax on sickness” while Labour said it was committed to ending them.
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The government condemned “complex and unfair” parking charges and called for reform, but a Department of Health spokesman said they were a matter for local NHS organisations rather than central regulation.
Our comment: A founding principal of the foundation of the NHS was created out of the ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. We regard the way hospitals are charging for hospital parking is incompatible with that principal.
Parking remains largely free at hospitals in Scotland and Wales.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last year vowed crackdown on charges for visitors and patients, but 63 per cent have since raised their fees with one hiking prices by 960 per cent.
Last night campaigners and MPs called for legislation to curb or even wipe out the charges.
Wye Valley NHS Trust (pictured, Hereford County Hospital which is part of the Trust) was one of the worst offenders after raising its average hourly rate from 33p to £3.50
One of the worst offenders was Wye Valley NHS Trust, which raised its average hourly rate from 33p to £3.50 – a 960 per cent increase. Whittington Hospital NHS Trust in London also angered patients, doubling its average hourly charge from £1.50 to £3.
Car Parking Charge increases
As we near the fateful day, it perhaps isn’t surprising that there are people south of the border who are envious of the benefits which people in Scotland enjoy free:
- Prescription charges
- Elderly Care
- University Tuition Fees
- Bus Passes from age 60
- Bedroom Tax
- Hospital parking charges
- Bridge Toll Fees
Listening to some of the televised debates one could take an implication that an independent Scotland would be able to make more things free. In reality we think it might be wise to keep hold of this list, and see how many remain after a few years of independence, and the facing of reality alone. I’d put a better chance on them remaining if Scotland decides to remain part of the Union.
Relatives of chronically ill patients must be given free or cheap hospital parking under new rules announced by the Government.
Patients with disabilities and those with frequent appointments as well as staff working shifts will also benefit from the shake-up, according to Jeremy Hunt.
The Health Secretary said new guidelines for English hospitals had been drawn up to put an end to the stress of “unfair” charges.
Trusts should waive fines when an overstay is beyond the control of the driver, such as treatment taking longer than planned, under the reforms.
Mr Hunt last month admitted he had concerns about the fees being charged to park at some hospitals after being pressed by Conservative backbenchers to put an end to the “rip-off” costs.
The guidance sets out for the first time that hospital trusts are responsible for the actions of any privately contracted firms they use to run their car parking operations.