28% of hospital trusts raise car parking fee

 

More than a quarter of hospital trusts have increased car parking charges for patients and visitors, according to new data.

Hospitals in England make millions of pounds every year from parking, which is free for most people in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Data from 197 hospital and mental health trusts found that while some have decreased prices, 28% have upped charges, some by over 100%.

A patients' group hit out at the "alarming" rise in fees, branding them a "tax on the sick".

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Marsden cancer hospital in London charged patients 100% more in 2010/11 than 2009/10.

They increased prices from 50p an hour on average to £1 an hour.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust upped prices 112%, from 67p an hour to £1.42.

North West London Hospitals NHS Trust charged £1.58 an hour on average, up 81% on the 88p it charged the year before.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust charged patients 200% more in 2010/11 than 2009/10, increasing prices from 25p an hour on average to 75p an hour.

The figures, analysed by data company SSentif, are provided to the NHS Information Centre by NHS trusts.

Only 16% of trusts reduced their average hourly parking charge for patients and visitors, with 54% making no concession and 28% increasing their charges.

Overall, car parks in hospital trusts in the South West were the most affordable, at an average of 52p per hour.

London and the South East had the most expensive charges at an average of £1.02 per hour.

Separate analysis found some trusts are charging much more than the national average (77p) for an hour's hospital parking, based on the average from a three-hour stay.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust charges £2.50 an hour on average, with a minimum of £3.50 for up to one hour.

Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey charges £2 for the first hour, £3 for one to hours and £4 for two to three hours.

Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust charges £2 for up to two hours and £4 for two to four hours.

Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust charges £1.60 for one hour, £2.10 for two and £4.20 for up to four.

In September 2010, the Government announced it would not back a pledge made by Labour to scrap car parking charges in England's hospitals, saying the plan could not be justified.

NHS trusts make more than £100 million a year from charging patients and visitors, although the Department of Health has stopped collecting the figures centrally.

Earlier this week, New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton claimed it needed to put up car parking charges to protect jobs.

Judy Aldred, managing director of SSentif, said: "Despite widespread criticism, the Government took the decision to keep hospital car parking charges in place and to allow trusts to set their own hourly rates.

"Whilst it is encouraging to see that some trusts have removed their charges or reduced them, our comparative study shows that charges still differ wildly across the country and those with long-term illnesses - or those visiting people with a long-term illness - are paying the price."

The Government discontinued collecting data on income from car parking in 2008/09.

Health Minister Simon Burns said: "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.

"NHS organisations must make the best use of public funds, and this includes setting car parking charges at a rate which is reasonable for the communities they serve and provides appropriate concessions.

"These figures illustrate the fact that three-quarters of hospitals have reduced their charges or left them unchanged."

He added: "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."

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: "The extraordinary rise in the price of car parking at our hospitals is alarming.

"While Wales and Scotland have scrapped car parking charges altogether, some hospitals have continued to raise their fees.

"Patients and visitors who attend hospital on a regular basis and for long periods of time are being forced to pay these exorbitant charges.

"It is often money patients do not have in these troubled financial times and is a tax on the sick when people have already paid for their health service.

"Hospitals should be properly supported by the Government and should not have to rely on charging patients and visitors to park to make ends meet.

"Car parking charges make a mockery of a service supposed to be free at the point of need."

Duleep Allirajah, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Cancer is an expensive condition and patients shouldn't be penalised for accessing the treatment they need.

"Public transport is generally not an option as they are undergoing gruelling treatment."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 5
film
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss