Anger at hospital parking charges
HOSPITALS in the region generated more than £3.5million in parking charges in the past year, it has been revealed.The giant figure was last night branded “shameful” by the cancer charity Macmillan, who claimed the tariff affects the most vulnerable.
HOSPITALS in the region generated more than £3.5million in parking charges in the past year, it has been revealed.
The giant figure was last night branded “shameful” by the cancer charity Macmillan, who claimed the tariff affects the most vulnerable.
But the hospitals, which serve Suffolk and north Essex, hit back and said they have no other way to maintain and secure the car parks.
They added many seriously-ill patients and their families receive discounted rates.
In 2005/6 Ipswich Hospital raised £891,922 and West Suffolk Hospital £691,900.
But Macmillan, which collated the figures following a Freedom of Information request, said it wanted free parking to be introduced for cancer patients.
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Judy Beard, acting chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “These figures are shocking.
“Cancer patients spend hundreds of pounds each year on hospital parking.
“Macmillan wants to see all cancer patients travelling regularly for treatment to be able to park free at hospital.
“NHS Trusts urgently need to implement this guidance -it's shameful that cancer patients are still paying to park at hospital.
“If cancer patients keep being charged the Government should step in and introduce stronger regulations.”
Bryan Moore-Smith, of the Ipswich Hospital Patient Public Involvement Forum, called for charges to be reduced.
He said: “Car parking charges are here to stay whether we like it or not but I don't think they need to be as high as they are.”
Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said it recognises the concerns over parking charges but said they had to charge because that is the only way they can provide parking throughout the trust.
She said: “The money we receive is for patient treatment and care. We haven't got another pot of money which we can use for car parking improvements and for security in the hospital.
“We also do our very best to persuade people to use public transport.”
Vinci Park, a private firm which manages West Suffolk Hospital's car parks, said recent price hikes had been kept to the minimum in line with the contract.
Money raised by hospital parking charges in 2005/06
Ipswich Hospital: £891,922
James Paget Hospital: £437,814
Mid Essex Hospital: £862,390
Essex Rivers Healthcare: £783,368
West Suffolk Hospital: £691,900