Lancashire hospital governor suspended in parking fees row
A hospital governor who said a new paid parking system was a "stupid decision which is not in the interests of either patients or staff" has been suspended.
Ken Jones, who is also a Labour councillor in Lancashire, criticised the new system after long queues to pay at two hospitals.
He said governors were not consulted before the decision was made.
An NHS spokesperson said input was sought from various people and the new fee meant a "more equitable approach".
The charges were introduced at Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley Hospital on 21 December.
Helen Johnson, whose husband has kidney dialysis treatment three times a week, said parking was previously free, adding: "It might not sound a lot - £2.50 per visit - but when you say £390 per year, that's a huge amount."
She said it had led to people queuing for more than half an hour at parking payment machines, which resulted in higher fees as their stays extended into the next pay bracket.
Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said "the cost of providing safe and secure car parks should not be taken from budgets intended for patient care".
She said the previous concessions and exemptions policy was "only applicable to a selection of patients and visitors".
"Although there will be no exemptions in future," she added, "this new concessions policy means a much more equitable approach for people who are regularly attending or visiting for long periods of time and means a number of people who previously had to pay full parking charges will now be eligible to pay the minimum daily charge of £2.50."
She apologised over "difficulties" in using the new system, adding: "There were a few initial technical issues, most of which have now been fully resolved."
Sue Musson, chair of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We can confirm that, in accordance with our constitution and policies, a governor has been suspended whilst a potential breach of our code of conduct is investigated."