HOSPITAL bosses have been called on to slash ‘rip-off’ parking fees.
Redditch MP Karen Lumley has backed the Stop the Hospital Car Parking Rip-off campaign which aims to force hospital bosses to reduce fees and provide a fairer service for patients and visitors.
In 2013/14 Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust took £2,227,000 in car parking charges, of which £1,824,000 was spent on the cost of running car parks and improvements at the Alexandra Hospital so people could pay on exit rather than in advance. The other £403,000 was ploughed back into patient care.
The Trust currently charges £3 for up to two hours, £4.50 for two to four hours, £6 for four to six hours and £7.50 for six to 24 hours. But there are other Trusts which charge £3 for four hours such as George Elliot in Nuneaton, and a large number charge £6 or less for parking all day.
Patients and visitors to hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford pay just £3.50 for a full 24 hours. However others, such as Wye Valley NHS Trust in Hereford are charging £15 a day and £3.50 for an hour.
However about a quarter of hospitals across England do not charge anything for parking and fees have been abolished completely in Scotland and Wales.
In the West Midlands figures analysed by the Standard show the average cost of an hour’s parking is £2.45, £3.38 for two hours, £4.55 for four hours and £7.59 all day.
Mrs Lumley said the fees currently being charged at the Alex were excessive when parking in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre cost just £1.20 for two hours and £2.50 for up to five hours.
“There is something not quite right about the fact in some cases it’s cheaper to park to shop in the town centre than it is to park at the hospital. This also has a knock on effect with people trying to park for free in the surrounding area,” she said.
“Hospital car parking fees hit the sick, and their families, at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.”
But James Longmore, director of estates for WAHT, said their charges were in line with many other hospitals and a special rate of £1 a day was available for parents visiting children, patients with cancer and other long-stay patients and their visitors. A one hour charge will also be introduced in the Autumn.
“Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust operates a consistent approach to car parking charges for all of our patients and visitors. This ensures we can continue to cover the cost of providing car parking in as fair a way as possible, without having to divert scarce funding from clinical services.
“The Trust board continue to keep all car parking charges under review to ensure they continue to compare favourably to other neighbouring acute hospitals.”