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

Relatives of chronically-ill patients must be given free or cheap car parking at hospitals Relatives of chronically-ill patients must be given free or cheap car parking at hospitals

Saturday, August 23, 2014
11:50 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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Relatives of chronically ill patients must be given free or cheap hospital parking under new rules announced by the Government.

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 email lauren.everitt@archant.co.uk

14 comments

  • Ian's Father. My son works at the Hospital filling an important role, but although they take about £340 per year for parking and he displays a badge, he has to get to park nearly 25 mins early to find a place to get to his duties. He cannot use public places and recently got fined for doing so, because he had to get to his work station. Staff should not pay at all.

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    Oldboy

    Monday, August 25, 2014

  • you do not want cheaper drugs you want drugs that work.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • It's not the fact that the trust charges an exorbitant rate to park....what gets my goat is they use machines that do not offer change AND then some jobsworth issues a miscreant and ne'erdowell of a criminal driver who has committed the horrendous sin of not returning to said vehicle within the time that has been paid for, an illegal fine for doing so.

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    waspie

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • It's way overdue for something to happen with hospital parking at Heath Road. I've had two very bad experiences there; waiting for ages in a queue to get a ticket whilst someone else struggles to get the machine to take all their loose change, whilst my father and sister are waiting desperately for me to arrive to see my just deceased mother, and the other; driving around and around not being able to find anywhere to park for ages with my father in the car who had just been diagnosed as a stroke victim and referred immediately to the hospital. You don't forget those things. Both very stressful for all involved and both avoidable with a system that focusses on the customer (patient or visitor) and not just on the car park management first and foremost as is the case now. Build a multi storey, we need that before we need any more damned traffic lights in this town..!!!

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    mmm

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Giving your ticket to someone else to use is not illegal ! It might not be within the rules of the parking at the hospital but passing it to someone else to use is ok . The ticket is not issued to the car or the person , is it ?

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    Poppys Dad

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • I don't know about other places but simply put there is not enough parking space available at Ipswich Hospital. Something that should have really happened a long time ago is that a multi-story car park should have been put on the hospital grounds. It doesn't have to be fancy - something like what they have at Colchester Station would be simple enough. Do that to a couple of the car parks and instant extra space. As for charges - I believe that they should be cheaper than they are certainly. They should also use the barrier style payment system such as they have at airports (ticket on the way in, pay for time there, ticket in barrier on way out). It would also be beneficial to have spaces specifically marked for staff and then the staff can buy season pass style tickets at a reduced rate. It shouldn't really create much delay as airports have far higher traffic and you don't get queues at the barrier of more than 3 cars even in the busy periods. The same reduced rates would also apply to anyone comming to the hostpital for an appointment. The only people paying the full price (although reduce and fairer) should be visitors, not just to those in really bad conditions but everyone. Even if you aren't critically ill it's not nice in hospital and getting a visitor is a really nice break in the day.

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    Chris Church

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • I recently had to attended the hospital for a breast screening appointment. Knowing what parking is like I left in plenty of time but still spent 20 minutes looking for a car parking space. I had to take he car so that I could fit the appointment in with other commitments. I had to pay for 2 hours of parking the least amount of time available. From getting the ticket, attending my appointment and getting back to the car itwas 21 minutes. I tried to give my ticket to someone else but was told it was not legal to do this. When the breast screening was at St Clemence there was no trouble parking and no fee. As the breast screening is right at the back of the hospital why cannot they provide designated spaces next to the screening van? You would only need 4 spaces as women come and go quite quickly. If I had been able to pay for the time I was parked I think it would be a fairer system.

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    Jayne

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • While the proposals are welcome, why have they waited 4 years thinking about them. Couldn't be anything to do with next years election could it? If the cost can be offset by using cheaper generic drugs, why aren't the doing that already?

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    amsterdam81

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • free free free [who is going to pay for it then?

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Yes I quite agree, also for people that are given appointments for health problems should also be free, why should patients pay when are appointments made for their health reasons, especially when delays are made in the waiting to see the specialist.

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    Keith Drury

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • just think of all the people held up at the lights at the hospital entrance while waiting for people at a ticket machine.you need a barrier as well.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • I agree with Poppy's dad on this one, only paying for the time actually in the car park. If it is pay on entry, it is a guessing game and I am sure people hazard a guess on how long they will be there and then add another hour.

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    The original Victor Meldrew

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Given the length of delay for most appointments pay on exit could actually work out more expensive for patients.

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    Esco Fiasco

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • Too right . You should also pay on the exit and only pay for the time you have been there rather than guessing when you arrive . Too many vehicles visit hospitals as it is so also an initiative to reduce them would also help . Staff parking is also a big issue and you will find a large proportion of the car park taken up with them .

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    Poppys Dad

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

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

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