Hospitals ordered to provide free or cheap parking for the seriously ill - what do you think?

Hospital Hospital

Saturday, August 23, 2014
10:10 AM

Relatives of chronically ill patients must be given free or cheap hospital parking under new rules announced by the Government.

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Patients with disabilities and those with frequent appointments as well as staff working shifts will also benefit from the shake-up, according to Jeremy Hunt.

The Health Secretary said new guidelines for English hospitals had been drawn up to put an end to the stress of “unfair” charges. Under the reforms, trusts should waive fines when an overstay is beyond the control of the driver, such as treatment taking longer than planned.

Mr Hunt last month admitted he had concerns about the fees being charged to park at some hospitals after being pressed by Conservative backbenchers to put an end to the “rip-off” costs.

The guidance sets out for the first time that hospital trusts are responsible for the actions of any privately contracted firms they use to run their car parking operations. It also calls on hospitals should also look at introducing pay on exit systems so that they only pay for the time they have used.

Mr 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.”

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who has led a campaign for reforms, said the move was a “massive step forward” but insisted that charges should be axed altogether in the future.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “In the long term I think we need to scrap hospital car parking charges completely because they are a stealth tax.

“It was never envisaged that people with cars should be subsidising the NHS.”

Ending charging would cost the health service around £200 million which could be funded by savings from switching to generic versions of branded drugs, he said.

The MP said parking charges were causing “misery” for thousands of vulnerable people.

“The stories that we’ve had of people not being able to use the machines so they haven’t been able to see their dying relatives is quite horrific and we have to make a change.”

Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne said: “The Tory-led Government scrapped Labour’s plans to phase out car parking charges for patients and Jeremy Hunt needs to take responsibility for the fact that, since then, one in four hospitals have increased parking fees.

“Any action to ease the burden of car parking charges on patients and their visitors is welcome. When people go to hospital, the last thing they want to worry about is parking fees.”

What do you think? Leave your comments below or tweet @edp24

32 comments

  • It states in the report that patients and families should not have to deal with the added stress of parking charges. How about adding the amount of money staff pay into the car park kitty our do they not count. Could the chairman offer concessionary parking for the hard working frontline staff.

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    loco

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014

  • ...."well who's gonna vote for that option?"....If people can afford a car then they can afford to pay parking fees (wealthy capitalists)....wouldn't be a problem in a communist country....because the free hospitals for poor communists would be shut 7 days per week.

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    Rhombus

    Monday, August 25, 2014

  • The electorate have consistently voted for parties (of all shades) that want hospitals to be run as businesses. If this is to be then hospitals should be able to charge a "market rate" for parking in order to maximise their revenue stream. If this is not to be....well who's gonna vote for that option?

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    marty r

    Monday, August 25, 2014

  • Just goes to prove how bad our local MP is and MPs in general... These charges should never have be allowed in the first place. It has been a total free for all ..with UK hospitals charging what they can get away with..... for many years.... Totally motivated GREED AND GORLESTON SEAFRONT AND SUPERMARKETS HAVE FREE PARKING.... So I wonder why JP Hospital feels the need to RIP OFF visitors under stress coming to see loved ones who are unwell.... Sadly UK laws allow such GREED against the public in so many ways.... as they say never TRUST AN MP....

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    Lionel

    Monday, August 25, 2014

  • This announcement is a standard government diversionary tactic for hiding the real issue: the privatisation of the NHS. Last year 70% of NHS contracts went to private companies including non-urgent patient transport in Norfolk to ERS whose grandparent company is US corporation Stericycle. The situation isn't going to improve once the secret Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations have completed. This will allow US corporations with NHS contracts to sue our government if they make legislative changes that will affect their future profits. The government, which includes Norfolk's very on Norman Lamb, could negotiate an exemption for the NHS, like the French have for their film industry, but they seem hell bent on opening up the NHS to US corporations. In case you are under any illusion that the US health system is better than ours, a recent study by the US based Commonwealth Fund, ranked our health service best and cheapest out of 11 first world countries and the US health system worst and most expensive. For more information follow @ourNHS or @NHAparty.

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    Sugarbeet

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • This parking issue is different to the business busting free car parking at out of town supermarkets. parking at NHS hospitals should be free to those who need to use the hospital, those who use it as a commuter carpark should be charged hefty fines, i.e those parking over 6 hrs. using it as a park and ride site.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • The trouble at the JPH in the beginning was that people were parking there for free all day and catching a bus into Town to do their shopping or go to work! I agree with some of the comments on here and that a small fee of 50p per car would be acceptable, of course, you will get those parking there all day again and going to work etc. Or, perhaps those that are visiting family who are seriously ill or in intensive care should get a free parking card.

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    Lynda

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • This is why I always use my motorbike for my regular hospital appointments - no charge. Given that even the very first appointment of the day with a consultant can be 45 minutes late, you'll always blow the "free" 30 minute period.

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    So_Many_Haters!

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • Parking at the NNUH is virtually impossible regardless of the charges. The car parks are always full during the week. As long as you are attending during the day Monday to Friday why not use the Park and Ride bus from Costessy P&R if you are able. I always use this. Its FREE if you have a Bus Pass after 9.30 and only £1 return otherwise, and there is plenty of parking. Most days the site is only about 25% full. The busses run every 30 mins and take about 10mins to the hospital.

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    John Redfern

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • Make the car park free, but charge everyone a 50p entrance fee - inpatients, outpatients, visitors - or even people who work there.

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    Rhombus

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • Mixed debate and opinions here. My thoughts are this, charge a flat rate of 50p for every car regardless of length of stay, this can go towards the garden being maintained. Also I think having far more disabled parking bays would be good for those that need it (blue badge holders only). I believe a lot of the problem is this, when the Hospital was in Central Norwich you only needed 1 bus into the city, now some people have to get 2 busses to make that journey. The hospital should of been more centralised which would of solved this parking issue. Just my opinion that's all.

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    Sayitlikeitis

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • Free for the Scots and Welsh,why not us?

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    stormy

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • At the JPH we are receiving cheaper car park fees. My dad has been in for 8 weeks now and have been given forms from the ward to park 4 times for £3 plus no time restriction for stay.

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    qwerty

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Me and my daughter took it in turns in visiting my father daily so it was two lots of car parking charges everyday without fail for over a fortnight before they allowed us to take him home to spend his last days. Along with a journey from Diss so I hate to think how much it cost us. Of course the money is nothing as it gave us precious time with him but it would have been nice not to have had to pay.

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    scallywag14

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • I seem to recall when the car park charges were introduced at the JPH all those years ago that they were only supposed to be in place for a year or so. I never believed it and I was proved to be correct. As Andy says, the NHS would make far more money if they stopped treating Health Tourists and turned them away before they offered any sort of help if they could not prove they had health insurance.

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    UKTaxpayer

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Panda - either you are a wind-up merchant or we know what you do for a living. I believe NNUH rank amongst the top ten of income from car parks. I have already paid for health care from taxes - why should I then have to pay extortionate fees to park and even worse have to pay more when I can't get seen on time? If the Health Service wants more money, stop giving treatment to those not entitled to it as happens in other countries. Try getting treatment in the US without paying up front and see how far you get! Staff who say this can't be done are just playing politics.

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    andy

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • I think that NHS trusts should charge as normal NHS funding streams should only be directed towards health, and not providing and maintaining car parking. The NNUH has some of the most reasonable charges and policies for relativespatients of any hospital I have experienced. They are an example other hospitals should follow.

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    Panda

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Well, if the NHS was properly funded, then there would be no need for car parking charges. You cant blame the hospitals for trying to get extra cash in this way to help with their costs! Over to you Dave!

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    Beezageoff

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • No-one should have to pay for hospital parking in order to visit patients or to spend time there for medical reasons. It is a national disgrace. It really boils down to penalizing people for being ill or for visiting someone that is ill. Personally, I find it beyond belief that it was even started in the first place, but I shouldn't be surprised, this is England after all.

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    Joolsy

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Don't forget we've already paid upfront for hospital parking through our NI & Tax contributions over to the years. We should not being paying twice...

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    double-dutch

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Trev 57 is right. Depending on which table you read the population density in France is 114 per sq km whilst England is 411 and growing fast - so there is much more space in France for everything - go check it out, And to johnboy4850 - who pays for our treatment then? I've certainly chipped in my bit to the NHS over my 50 working years, enough for me and plenty more! I believe, like many, that the parking charges should be scrapped, but then all those now parking in various streets and those not visiting the JPH but looking for free parking will immediately fill the hospital car park and the genuine visitors, including those not disabled or with children but needing close or even urgent access, will be out in the rain as you might say.

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    wallywalnut

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Free to park at Tesco. Pay to park at a hospital. Thats Britain for you shocking. Only since UKIP has been questioning this has something been done. Let have no charges at all.

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    Johnny Norfolk

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • These parking charges should never have been bought in & the sooner we see the back of them the better.

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    Frank

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • There has been a long standing problem with people visiting the JPH at Gorleston parking their cars in the adjoining streets to avoid paying to park in the hospital car parks. The car parking fees have just go up so if you are unlucky enough not to conclude your business at the JPH within 30 minutes you have to pay £3, which covers you for a two hour stay. Which really is for one and a half hours as the first 30 minutes are free - so called. I don`t have an issue with paying to park my car but I think the charges are extortionate and one should only pay for the time ones vehicle is parked. The hospital to me seem to be on a good thing.

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    BG

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • BRING IT ON - and improve public transport links into the bargain - they leave a lot to be desired. If Nottingham and other places can have a 'direct' link, why can't we?

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    biglingers

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • If you arrive five minutes before an outpatients appointment and if the consultation takes ten minutes then having the first thirty minutes free parking it shouldn't cost anything. If you are not seen until forty minutes AFTER your appointment time then you have to pay. There is therefore no incentive for the hospital to see patients at their booked time.

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    nicholas dasey

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Well trev57 you may park for free But i bet the treatment comes at a cost

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    johnboy4850

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Free parking at Welsh and Scottish hospitals. So why not here? Perhaps a case for the wonderful Human Rights Court?

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    norman hall

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • It is about time regulation to standardise Hospital Parking charges around the UK...50p an hour is fair if ..FREE parking is not enforced...TREATING THE PUBLIC AS CASH COWS to park their cars is just MOTIVATED GREED by hospitals...sadly our local MP is yet again should have stopped this mess years ago... Trouble is MPs are active after an event .... They should have regulated this mess years ago...Hospital Car Parks are not a luxury but a social NEED.... Sham after voting for an MP they go into hiding when injustices and rip offs like Hospital parking charges are talked about for several past years... no wonder few bother voting... MPs can show so much contempt for voters requirements and fair play in general... They often allow or create more problems than they solve...or we would not have so many issues to talk about...that is BASIC LOGIC.

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    Lionel

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • About time .The tyranny of the anti car brigade allowed greedy hospital managers to get away with stinging those who had no chance of using public transport because of its sparsity, their or their relative's illness or their working hours. What needs to be done now is to recognise that car parks are just that and not lawns or shrubberies and tarmac every badly maintained border to maximise spaces. Few patients benefit from a view of manky shrubs but their visitors or users of out patients clinics might be glad of finding a parking space after they have driven 25 miles or so. And places like the QE2 need to be forced to install a pay as you leave the hospital system, not an advance sum which, if clinics run on time or a patient nods off during visiting, might not be used.

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    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • I moved from Norwich to France where parking at hospitals is free,in fact loads of parking is free and the pay carparks are cheaper and there is more of it,from what I can see now England's problem is they pay to much to some state employees which in turn reduces the cash for other things and carpark charging is a way of making up the shortfall

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    trev57

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Not before time. It's a tax on the sick and their families, as well as staff. As well as savings through drug purchasing, the bloated salaries of the various managers, board members and other non-medical drones should be reduced to cover any shortfalls.

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    T Doff

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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