Hospital car parks may see reduced charges
Hospitals across England are being told to cut the cost of car parking for certain groups of people.
Ministers have said that relatives of those seeing a family member who are seriously ill or have to stay in hospital for a long period of time should receive free car parking or reduced charges.
Concession prices are also being considered for people with disabilities and to NHS staff if their shift pattern means they are unable to use public transport.
The news of these changes to car parking in hospital comes shortly after Labour accused the current coalition government of dropping plans to remove the charges.
Individual NHS trusts are currently responsible for car parking charges and policies.
According to The Department of Health Guidance, trusts were responsible for the conduct of private car parking contractors running the facilities on their behalf.
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said: “Patients and families shouldn’t have to deal with the added stress of unfair parking charges.
“These clear ground rules set out our expectations, and will help the public hold the NHS to account for unfair charges or practices.”
The Health Secretary recently came under fire from Conservative backbenchers to stop patients and visitors from paying “rip-off” costs.
As part of the campaign to reduce car parking charges, Harlow MP Robert Halfron requested Freedom of Information to around 400 hospitals.
This found significant differences in parking charges, with London hospitals charging the most at an average of £20 for a day and more than £130 for one week.
The cheapest prices were found in the East Midlands, with parking at hospitals costing an average of £3.50 a day and £11 for one week.
The majority of hospitals in Scotland have been offering free parking since 2009.