Hospital parking charges to be kept

The government has ruled that hospitals in England can continue to charge patients for car parking after ministers admitted that scrapping the fees would be too costly.

Health minister Simon Burns admitted that the current Government would not back a promise by the previous Labour administration to cut hospital parking charges altogether.

"At a time when the NHS needs to make every penny of its budget count, the Government cannot support such a proposal," wrote Mr Burns in a letter to MPs.

The news will come as a blow to those who regularly visit hospitals after Mr Burns' predecessor, Andy Burnham, promised to axe hospital parking charges in England.

But Mr Burns defended the coalition Government's decision not to scrap parking charges, claiming that there could be a "net disbenefit" of almost £200 million and that money spent on ending these charges could therefore not be invested in healthcare.

Copyright © Press Association 2010