Hospital parking charges could rise

CAR parking charges at Ipswich Hospital could be on the rise in a bid to improve security.

By JESSICA NICHOLLS, health reporter

CAR parking charges at Ipswich Hospital could be on the rise in a bid to improve security.

Visitors could find themselves paying an extra £1 an hour if they stay up to four hours and £3 an hour more if they park for up to £6 hours.

Proposals are being put forward to increase the charges as part of a new security scheme at the hospital.

Although a spokeswoman for the hospital said that there were no current plans to provide more spaces, they were looking into using what space they had got better.

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As reported in the Evening Star last month, fights have even broken out between visitors vying for spaces and car park attendants have had to get involved in heated debates.

Residents in nearby Brisbane Road, Tasmania Road and Adelaide Road have also been affected and planned to launch a petition to stop hospital visitors using their streets as a car park.

With the extra money from the charges the Hospital are hoping to provide 24-hour security arrangements and if given the go-ahead could rise from December.

Spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said that more security was needed and money could not be taken away from patient care.

She said: "We need to make sure that it is a safe and secure environment and the only way we can do that is to raise car parking charges.

"But the charges are in line with other hospitals.

"All the car parks are very busy and we realise that it can be really frustrating for people, we are doing all we can to improve that."

Two years ago the hospital was given the go-ahead to provide 70 extra spaces for visitors with the possibility of a barrier system.

The £500,000 required to make the improvements was to come from extra car parking charges so that the patient care budget was not affected.

At the moment if visitors park for between one to two hours between 7am and 7pm, they pay £1-£1.50, in line with Addenbrooke's, Norfolk and Norwich, James Paget and Colchester General.

But if the proposals go ahead, that could rise to £2. Up to three hours could cost £3 as opposed to the current £2.

People visiting for four hours would find no change at £5 but visitors planning to stay for five or six hours could see themselves digging in their pockets for £8 instead of the £5 they would pay at the moment.

The proposals for the new car parking charges were due to be discussed at a public board meeting of the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust today. .