Even disabled patients are still being charged for parking at some hospitals
Last year, hospital car parks collected a record £175 million, with disabled patients still being charged for parking at around half of hospitals in England.
This is despite the Government announcing a crackdown on hospital parking charges.
Hospitals raked in a staggering £175m just from parking charges last year and also made around £1 million in parking fines, which is an increase of around a third compared to the previous year. However, the real figure could be around £4 million.
The revelations come following a Freedom of Information request, which discovered that the highest charges are at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, where patients and visitors are having to pay £4 for one hour’s parking.
A further 14 hospitals charged around £3 for an hour’s parking – Northampton General charges £3.20, whilst Southend University Hospital charges £3.10.
The fees have in the past been described as ‘unfair’ by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Back in 2014, Mr Hunt introduced guidelines asking for NHS trusts to provide free or reduced parking for the disabled, cancer patients, staff and relatives.
As the guidelines were not brought in legally, they were ignored by many trusts as fees create important income for many.
“Parking charges amount to an extra charge for being ill. The increase in the number of trusts who are charging for disabled parking is particularly concerning,” said Rachel Power from the Patients’ Association.
Of the 150 hospital trusts in England, figures showed that from 111 of them they managed to rake in £174.5 million in parking charges for 2016/17, up 6% from the previous year’s figure of £164.1 million.
A total of 56 trusts admitted to still charging disabled patients to park in some or all of their disabled parking bays.
Of the trusts, just 40 provided data related to parking fines and between them they made £947,568 in 2016/17 compared to £716,385 the year before.
Apparently, it’s only in England where patients and visitors are having to pay to park at a hospital.
The figures were obtained by former Tory MP Robert Halfon who described the parking charges as ‘blood money’.
“NHS organisations are locally responsible for the methods used to charge and we want to see them coming up with flexible options that put patients and their families first,” said the Department of Health.
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