Sorry, we must pay for hospital parking – the NHS needs cash
You have an extra £200 million a year to give to the NHS. Do you spend it on a) mental health, b) heart disease, or c) subsidising drivers, who are statistically slightly wealthier than average?
Jeremy Corbyn calls charges in NHS car parks a “tax on sickness”, which reveals an alarmingly weak grasp of what a tax is. Suppose I paid for a cup of tea from a dispenser that happened to be in a hospital lobby. Would that also be a “tax”?
Parking spaces are a limited resource. Charging for them is one way to ensure that they are not taken by people who have other alternatives. In Scotland, where charges were scrapped in 2008, the car parks filled immediately, forcing some patients to walk long distances to their appointments.
Opponents of charges point to the hardest cases: parents of chronically ill children, for example. But, as things stand, hospitals can use their discretion. Many offer free or discounted parking to staff, disabled visitors or people with long-term illnesses. A central decree scrapping all charges would, in many places, mean fewer spaces for those who most need them. We should let local people decide.