NHS hospital parking fee rises criticised

Generic image of hospital patient The Patients Association says prices are too high for those who have to attend hospital regularly

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More than a quarter of hospital trusts in England increased car parking charges for patients and visitors in the year to last April, figures show.

While some cut prices, others more than doubled them, according to data from 197 hospital and mental health trusts.

A patients' group branded the fees a "tax on the sick" and called for NHS parking to be free, as in most of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ministers say making parking free would mean taking £100m from the care budget.

The figures, analysed by data company SSentif, were provided to the NHS Information Centre by the trusts.

They show 28% put up their car parking charges between 2010 and 2011, with only 16% reducing them.

They stated that fees at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust jumped 112%, from an average of 67p an hour to £1.42, while North West London Hospitals NHS Trust charged £1.58 an hour on average, up 81% from 88p.

But United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust said it had not increased its car parking charges since 2009, which had been the first time in four years, and the figures appeared to be incorrect.

"Many patients at Lincolnshire's hospitals do not pay for parking, but these patients have not been included in this analysis," it said in a statement. "Anyone parking for three hours would pay £1 per hour. No one need pay more than £3.50 for up to 24 hours."

'Already paid'

The figures showed that prices at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and London's Royal Marsden cancer hospital doubled to an average of £1 an hour, while they tripled to 75p an hour at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

Start Quote

Simon Burns

NHS organisations must make the best use of public funds - and this includes setting car parking charges at a rate which is reasonable”

End Quote Simon Burns Health Minister

Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy described parking charges as "exorbitant" for those who have to attend hospital regularly.

"It is often money patients do not have in these troubled financial times and is a tax on the sick when people have already paid for their health service," she said.

"Hospitals should be properly supported by the government and should not have to rely on charging patients and visitors to park to make ends meet."

The figures suggested patients and visitors in London and south-east England paid the most, with the cheapest charges in the South West.

Separate analysis found some trusts were charging much more than the national average (77p) for an hour's hospital parking, based on the average from a three-hour stay.

For example, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was charging £1.60 for one hour, £2.10 for two and £4.20 for up to four.

Parking at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust cost £2.50 an hour on average, starting at £3.50 for up to one hour.

Concessions needed

In September 2010, the government announced it would not back a pledge made by Labour to scrap parking charges in England's hospitals, saying the plan could not be justified.

Health Minister Simon Burns said parking policies were a local issue but should not discriminate against patients who require frequent or extended treatment.

"NHS organisations must make the best use of public funds, and this includes setting car parking charges at a rate which is reasonable for the communities they serve and provides appropriate concessions," he said.

"No one should be paying extortionate amounts to park in an NHS car park, but introducing free hospital car parking could cost the NHS more than £100m - money that would otherwise be spent on patient care."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    No. 466 Kieran - Go for your nice drive, but beware you might just pass me on the pavement, and if you were able to log into my thoughts, it might interfere with your driving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    Was that aimed at me about hospital not being the right place for those who know they're terminally ill? I hope not as you haven't a clue about my mum's condition or my family, and I'm not about to explain it all on here.
    I'll just say that altho we wanted her in a home, hospital unfortunately WAS the right place for her at the time, as it is for many others who know they're dying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    448,446 botnedz
    A discussion on charging the sick & grieving for parking at hospitals is not the place to attack the motorcar.If u want to do that,go to a motoring forum.
    How small u must be to get any satisfaction from rants that even u admit are just for u to let off steam instead of pursuade.

    I could get the last laugh here by just going for a nice drive.I won't tho cause I'm not small-minded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    Again Mr Burns says: "introducing free hospital car parking could cost the NHS more than £100m - money that would otherwise be spent on patient care." NHS patient care is meant to be funded by NI contributions. If patient care is dependent to any degree on revenue from car parks, the govt and NHS managers are guilty of incredible financial mismanagement. Why didn't the BBC pull him up on this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    So if parking in Scotland and Wales is free does this suggest that the parking fees in England part fund the NHS in those regions. If it does, I fail to understand the "NATIONAL" bit of what we call the NHS because it clearly is not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    458. jeff davies

    '... no notice is ever given how much is raked in or what it's used for, we have a right to know!'

    Look in your hospital trust's annual report. It's all in there. Still a bit of righteous indignation is better for you than bothering to chase up some facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    £100 million???? Presumably that's roughly the amount of money people deposit into NHS hospital car park machines every year in England. That is really incredible. We are allowing both central govt and local authorities to bleed us dry by sucking money from our pockets in countless ways every single day. Just like a pick-pocket, we don't even notice it's happening. We need to start saying NO

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    "...introducing free hospital car parking could cost the NHS more than £100m - money that would otherwise be spent on patient care."

    This is what the government does so well, twist the logic completely out of an issue until you're left banging your head against a wall. They introduce a tax/fee/duty/charge and then later claim that they can't do away with it because it would cost too much. Scam.

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    There's a constant war being waged against drivers. All too often now, shortfalls in funding are being made up by extorting money from drivers. Most local authorities have looked towards drivers for extra cash. Why? because they can and get away with it because many people, in particular, those in rural areas, have no choice. Where would we be without the car and it's cash raising potential?

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    Fees are not necessary to deter inappropriate use of hospital car parks. Machines can easily be made to return payment upon deposit of a token, in this case a token given by the hospital upon completion of your hospital visit. Much the same way as many supermarkets manage their car parks. Charges are being used to supplement hospital budgets just as street parking meters supplement council budgets

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    Goodness knows where the money collected goes to but it's probably wasted, no notice is ever given how much is raked in or what it's used for, we have a right to know! Car Parking in Hospitals WAS free then the idiots in charge decided to tax patients and visitors. How DARE you tax the sick! There are far too many Chiefs and not enough Indians in the NHS, save some money by getting rid of bosses!

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    My mum died in hospital a few years ago after a series of treatments lasting a few years for a brain tumour. No way did Mum or I ever think that she was in hospital other than to receive treatment and get better. I discussed things with my Mum and we both agreed that she wasn't in hospital to pass away. If you know you are not going to survive is hospital the right place to be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    I used to think Hospital parking was expensive in the UK until I moved to Canada. I recently paid about of $200 in parking over the course of 4 days. Ouch!

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.


    Where's your compassion. You clearly have not gone through chemo and struggle not to throw up before getting home. Do you really think it is better to walk (and wait) to catch a bus after treatment? and that's if you are lucky to live near the hospital and there is decent public transport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.

    Not only should drivers pay for parking at hospitals but all driving related injuries should be paid for by drivers or those that caused the injuries. The NHS was not set up to pay for self-inflicted injuries. Perhaps then, drivers will drive more considerately and safer. Naturally there will be exceptions to this statement but you get my drift

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.

    #446 botnedz

    I didn't ask you to do the impossible, just to provide some evidence to support your prejudiced conjecture.

    To answer your point though, yes it is possible to convert a motorist to a cyclist, when the circumstances dictate that cycling is a better option. As to attacking rather than preaching, I'd refer you to my previous post: provide a reasoned argument?

  • rate this

    Comment number 452.

    How is it that Scotland and Wales can do away with charges for parking and dare I say prescriptions it seems that if we in England question this we are fobbed of answers like ' it can't be done because patient treatments will suffer if this money sopped or 'if these charges are stopped then so many Nurses etc. will have to be laid off I don't see this happening in either Wales or Scotland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    #433 Some Lingering Fog & 443 (me)

    The rest of the comment should have read...


  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    444.Tsunami of Logic
    ABOLISH THE NHS!!!!! It is so staggeringly obvious that this is the right thing to do for the UK. The NHS will destroy the UK like some monstrous blood sucking vampire squid if it left unchecked.
    Come on Tories do the right thing!
    More like Tsunami of Absurdum.
    See a specialist in the mental health dept, but fast!
    Tories do the right thing? – That’ll be the day!

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    445 incurable

    Taking your argument further. When the NHS was set up people did not generally have cars and lived closer to hospitals. The NHS is there to treat medical conditions. How you get there has nothing to do with the NHS and should not be taken into consideration when funding is used. There was also considerably less population with different and now largely illiminated conditions.


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