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.
A former Gwynedd bus company boss has been found guilty of fraud and false accounting.
John David Hulme, 55, had denied charges relating to more than £800,000 in public money paid to Padarn Bus Ltd in claims for concessionary fares.
Caernarfon Crown Court heard the offences occurred between July 2011 and December 2012.
Hulme was suspended on an unrelated matter in July 2012 by which time £495,857.08 had been falsely claimed.
The court heard Hulme made inflated claims about the number of concessionary fare passengers who used the service.
Hulme and operations director Darren Price, who previously admitted fraud covering the period after Hulme was suspended, will be sentenced on Thursday.
Just a few comments received recently from visitors to our Blog:
Not happy, just logged in to get my bus pass at 62 can’t get my bus pass until i’m 64 this is discrimination and should taken the the EU court of law, we all pay our taxes to the same government yet the English are penalised with the date we can receive our bus pas why do we have to suffer, in Scotland and Wales they get it at 60 why are the English discriminated against? it’s not fair and it’s not politically correct. it’s time this was challenged in court. Roy
I retired at 55 but will be unable to have a bus pass or state pension until I am 66. I appreciate you have rules for state pension but why do some areas offer bus passes at 60 including Scotland and Wales. Being English certainly doesn’t pay! Leslie
Having received my bus pass at age 60 …and also my sister just got hers in London…I advised a friend she was entitled to hers. Now find I’m embarrassed having given her the wrong information as she lives in Yorkshire. Why is there such a discrepancy? Why are people entitled in London and Merseyside? Special people? Genie
I am shocked to find out that England is not giving free bus passes at 60 like it does to Scotland (I am Scottish) and Wales. I have the good fortune to be Scottish but residing in wales now. It is totally wrong not to give English the same as Scotland and Wales a free bus pass automatically at 60. wrong, wrong, wrong. I have an English friend who turns 60 this july who cannot claim free bus pass till quite a few years from now who cannot retire because she cant afford to and working in extreme pain from arthritis (in the nhs. of all places) and to add insult to injury so to speak ,cant even get a free bus pass to work. I will gladly join all of you in England in getting up a petition to fight this. It is discrimination at the highest level. By the way I would not have voted to break up the Union had I still been living in Scotland last year ( when I moved to Wales a few months before.) I am Scottish and proud to be but also British. We should all be equal in the British Isles. This is not fair for all of you in England. Please someone let me know what I can do to further your cause. An Angry Scotsman!!!!!!!!. Magregor
When the 39A service between Hay-on-Wye and Hereford looked set for the chop local businesses and residents offered to fund it and the Hay Ho! bus was born
When penny-pinching local authority bosses scrapped subsidies on a local bus route it threatened to leave pensioners in a Welsh town cut off.
The launch of Hay Ho! Bus servic
So when a group was formed to save the service they stepped in – and handed over their winter fuel allowances to keep the service on the road.
Tourism businesses in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, feared they would lose trade if their public transport link to Hereford on Sundays ended so they decided to shoulder the financial risk themselves.
Facing an estimated £6,000 shortfall for one year of Sunday buses the Hay Tourism Group set up a supporters’ club for the route. It has been named the Hay Ho! bus to make it more appealing than the plain old 39A.
The group has been taken aback not only by the number of people who have already paid the club’s £5 subscription fee but also by pensioners offering winter fuel allowances.
“We’ve had about £1,700 pledged,” said Anna Heywood, secretary of Hay Tourism Group. “We’ve got 29 supporters signed up. Some people have pledged winter fuel allowances.
“IN Newport recently with my husband and grandchild who is 16 months old and in a pushchair, we were going to visit my daughter in Maindee. We went to catch a green bus, number 8c.
My husband gave the driver our bus passes, but was told we would have to pay for the child.
When I asked him why we had to pay as we have never paid for him on any other bus service as he is a baby, the bus driver said he had worked on the buses for 17 years and a child has to pay because we were riding free.
I know a child has to be under five not to pay. We have taken our grandson on many bus rides and the driver has never asked us to pay for him.
STAGECOACH Group has threatened a legal challenge over plans by the Welsh Government to reduce the budget of its concessionary travel scheme.
The transport operator said it intends to bring a judicial review, which is a court proceeding where a judge looks at the lawfulness of a decision or action by a public body, unless the Welsh assembly’s plan is reconsidered before April 1.
The potential action comes after the Welsh Government recently agreed a funding package of £189 million for free bus travel in Wales for the next three years.
That is a reduction of more than 11% on the £213.3m that has been allocated during the past three years.
Around 720,000 people in Wales, including serving members and veterans from the armed forces, are eligible to use the scheme.
Stagecoach said its legal advisors suggest the Welsh Government has made an error by capping the scheme to fit within a budget as opposed to following a statutory principle that transport operators should be no better and no worse off as a result of a concessionary scheme.
That principle makes allowances so operators should not miss out on the fares they would have collected while also taking into account the likelihood that more people are likely to travel as a result of a concessionary scheme.
Perth based Stagecoach is the largest bus operator in Wales with seven depots, almost 400 vehicles and around 900 staff.
Service cuts and job losses will be inevitable if the Welsh Government cuts payments for free bus travel by more than 37% next year, bus professionals have warned.
When pensioners and disabled people across Wales were given unlimited free bus travel in 2002, all bus operators were compelled by law to carry pass holders without charging a fare.
The law also committed the Welsh Government to paying for each passenger at a rate which leaves the bus operator no better or worse off than if the free travel were unavailable.
Since 2002 the operators have been reimbursed 73.59% of their average single fare. This was reviewed and confirmed as the appropriate figure four years ago.
But the Welsh Government recently told the bus industry it intends to pay just 46% of the average fare from April 1. Managers say that would have a dramatic impact on their revenue, forcing them to withdraw services and reduce their fleets and staffing.