Hospital car parking charges will come under scrutiny as part of a new consultation launched by the Health Secretary Andy Burnham.
Mr Burnham has said that the the NHS has not paid the issue the attention it ought to have done and will ask people for their views on the proposals to get rid of the charges for in-patients and some out-patients.
The issue of car parking charges was discussed at the Labour Party Conference in September when Mr Burnham pledged to phase out in-patient car parking charges over the next three years.
The Health Secretary also said he wanted to introduce parking permits to allow friends and relatives to visit in-patients for free.
The eight-week consultation will ask if free parking should be available for visitors to all in-patients or if it should only become free for friends and relatives of those admitted for a long stay.
It will also suggest options to make parking charges fairer for out-patients.
These include giving access to free parking for those who need to attend a series of appointments or placing a cap on charges for priority out-patient groups who attend regular hospital appointments.
Mr Burnham told GMTV: "I am aware of the strong feelings on the issue and to be honest I don't think the NHS has given the attention it deserves to this issue because people do feel very strongly about it.
"What I am saying is that people who are going into hospital are often at a low point in their life emotionally or financially."
Copyright © Press Association 2009