Plan B sought on hospital parking fees

Plan B sought on hospital parking fees

Health ministers have been urged to come up with a plan B to tackle hospital car parking charges.

Efforts last week saw Jeremy Hunt seek to alleviate the burden of parking charges within NHS hospital grounds by issuing guidelines that mean relatives of severely ill patients would be given free or cheap parking along with patients with disabilities, frequent visitors and staff working shifts.

And while the move was welcomed in the Commons, Labour former minister Frank Field told MPs: "We know from our own local areas there's some hospital trusts who will, put gently, two fingers up to what (Mr Hunt) says..."

With some hospitals charging up to £500 per week, Health Minister Dan Poulter was urged to come up with a back-up measure to reduce parking fees.

Conservative Jackie Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock, said that with many having little other option but to drive to hospital, the car parking charges are a "tax on NHS treatment".

And Labour's David Wright, MP for Telford, called for them to be scrapped altogether, citing that within his constituency the car parks could easily manage without charges.

He said there needn't be worries that people will take advantage of free parking in hospitals, saying that tickets can still be enforced to control the parking spaces, but in the meantime "you just make it free".

"I think we ought to try and commit as a House to pushing the Government and the Opposition as well to making a commitment in the medium to long-term to the abolition of parking charges at hospitals," he said.

Copyright Press Association 2014