HOSPITAL car parking should be free – paid for by a tax on healthcare insurance.
That’s the view of Warrington North MP Helen Jones after discovering that the Government does not know what proportion of each NHS Trust’s income came from parking charges.
She said: “ It is outrageous that the minister does not know how much each NHS Trust makes from car parking charges and how reliant our hospitals are on this income source, given that they are so cash strapped as a result of government policy.”
Ms Jones had asked a number of written questions in Parliament and was told the figures for the income gained from NHS parking charges
were not collected centrally. The average fee charged per hour for patients and visitors at NHS Trusts was £1.32 per hour and for staff 19p per hour.
She said Warrington Hospital charges £2.50 for up to two hours and £3.50 for up to 4 hours – with the first 30 minutes free.
The minister made clear that the provision of parking spaces and the level of any charges made to use them are matters for individual NHS Trusts, taking into account operational circumstances and community interests. The NHS itself is responsible for ensuring that charges are fairly applied.
An angry Ms Jones said: “The Secretary of State for Health recently stated that patients and families shouldn’t have to deal with the added stress of unfair parking charges. How can he possibly do anything about it when he doesn’t know the scale of the problem and is leaving the decisions of how fair the charges are to the NHS itself? It is an abdication of his responsibilities.”