End ‘stealth tax’ of hos­pi­tal park­ing charges, MPS urged

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS - BY MARTIN BAGOT Health Cor­re­spon­dent

HOS­PI­TAL car park­ing charges of up to £500 a week should be abol­ished, MPS heard yes­ter­day.

Ex-tory min­is­ter Robert Hal­fon, who in­tro­duced a bill to end them, said the fees were “a stealth tax on the NHS”.

Half of trusts have raised fees de­spite min­is­ters or­der­ing a crack­down three years ago.

Health Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt had urged NHS trusts to re­duce charges – but new fig­ures show that 47% hos­pi­tals in Eng­land in a sur­vey charge more per hour than in 2014. Mr Hal­fon said pa­tients and rel­a­tives were be­ing forced to fork out up to £4 an hour, adding: “We can­not say the NHS is free at the point of ac­cess, paid for by gen­eral tax­a­tion if peo­ple with cars face ex­tor­tion­ate and un­fair park­ing fees.”

The Com­mons bill passed to a sec­ond read­ing, which will be heard in March next year.

CAM­PAIGN Robert Hal­fon

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