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Hospitals raise car parking charges

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New data has revealed more than a quarter of hospital trusts have increased their car parking charges for patients and visitors.

Car parking is free in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland but in England over £100 million pound is made from parking at hospitals each year.

The data showed that out of 197 hospitals trusts, 28% have upped their charges since last year with some increasing them by more than 100%.

Areas such as Stockport and London charged their patients and visitors 100% more in 2010/2011 compared to the previous year of 2009/2010. The hospitals increased their charges from 50p per hour to £1 per hour. United Lincolnshire Hospital also increased their charges from 67p per hour to £1.42. As expected hospitals in Chelsea and Westminster charge an astonishing £2.50 per hour.

The rise in costs equal to a substantial amount if a visitor or patient needed to stay for the entire day. Even staying for two hours could amount to a lot if they visited each day. Public transport is also not an option if patients are receiving treatment which leaves them no other choice than to pay the car parking fee.

The data also revealed that just 16% of trusts reduced their car parking charges. The most affordable charges were situated in the South West where charges on average are a reasonable 52p per hour.

Health Minister Simon Burns spoke to The Independent regarding the charges saying: “We expect patients whose healthcare needs require frequent or extended hospital visits to be treated fairly, and car parking policies should not discriminate against them.

“No one should be paying extortionate amounts to park in an NHS car park, but introducing free hospital car parking could cost the NHS more than £100 million - money that would otherwise be spent on patient care.” 

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By Amanda Bainbridge