‘Rip-off ’ hos­pi­tal park­ing charges top £250m

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Laura Donnelly Health Ed­i­tor

‘The car parks are so busy that from 16.30 un­til 17.30 it can take nearly one hour to leave the hos­pi­tal’

HOS­PI­TALS are charg­ing pa­tients’ re­la­tions more than £100 to visit, amid record charges of more than £250mil­lion a year, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­veals.

One in three NHS trusts in­creased their prices in the past year, with over­all charges ris­ing by 10 per cent.

Cam­paign­ers crit­i­cised the “rip-off ” fees as a tax on be­ing ill.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion of 144 NHS trusts came along­side a sur­vey of al­most 8,000 pa­tients and vis­i­tors who re­cently used hos­pi­tal car parks.

One man told how a visit to see his sick wife had cost him £102.

The To­ries have pledged to make park­ing free for those in great­est need, in­clud­ing the dis­abled, par­ents of sick chil­dren stay­ing overnight and staff work­ing nights. Labour says it will scrap all charges.

Manch­ester Univer­sity NHS Foun­da­tion Trust re­ceived the most park­ing cash last year with £6.4mil­lion.

This was fol­lowed by Univer­sity Hos­pi­tals Birmingham NHS Foun­da­tion Trust, which earned £5.9mil­lion, and Univer­sity Hos­pi­tals of Leicester NHS Trust, which made £5mil­lion.

North Tees and Hartle­pool NHS Foun­da­tion Trust had the high­est hourly rate, at £4 for 60 min­utes.

In the sur­vey of 7,883 re­cent users of hos­pi­tal car parks, dis­abled pa­tients told how they were fined for park­ing, even though they had not been able to find a space. Over­all, 86 per cent of those polled said park­ing added to the stress of a hos­pi­tal visit. One pa­tient said: “The car parks are so busy that from 16.30 un­til 17.30 it can take nearly one hour to leave the hos­pi­tal.”

Oth­ers de­scribed the charges as “a rip-off ”, “ex­tor­tion­ate”, “astro­nom­i­cal” and “ex­or­bi­tant”.

A doc­tor told of be­ing fined for park­ing while tak­ing a pa­tient to a hos­pi­tal.

The data, gath­ered from 144 NHS trusts, show that hos­pi­tals made £254,373,068 from charg­ing for park­ing in 2018-19.

This in­cluded at least £143 mil­lion from pa­tients and vis­i­tors and £65 mil­lion from staff. The record high is up al­most 10 per cent from the £232mil­lion the year be­fore.

In­come from park­ing fines in­creased by 8 per cent in 2018-19. Just un­der half of trusts said their car parks were man­aged by a pri­vate com­pany, with at least 23 of these pri­vate firms tak­ing all the fines in­come. Half of trusts charged for dis­abled park­ing.

Rachel Power, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Pa­tients As­so­ci­a­tion, said the charges were a tax on ill­ness, adding: “We need to see a full fund­ing set­tle­ment for the health and care sys­tem, and car park­ing charges abol­ished once it is in place.”

Saf­fron Cordery, deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive of NHS Providers, said: “Car parks are ex­pen­sive to run for the trusts that own them.” She said abol­ish­ing charges could cost about £200 mil­lion per year, and trusts would have to find fund­ing from else­where, which could “im­pact on pa­tient care”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.