Hospital parking rates to go up

VISITORS and staff at cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital face increased parking charges and tougher enforcement under new proposals, it has emerged.The hospital is considering employing a private enforcement company to manage car parking arrangements on site for both staff and patients, which is likely to see fines of £40 (rising to £80 if not paid within 21 days) imposed for non payment.

VISITORS and staff at cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital face increased parking charges and tougher enforcement under new proposals, it has emerged.

The hospital is considering employing a private enforcement company to manage car parking arrangements on site for both staff and patients, which is likely to see fines of £40 (rising to £80 if not paid within 21 days) imposed for non payment.

It has also outlined proposals to put up car parking charges - for the first time since December 2002 - with increases ranging from 10p up to £2.

The proposals were outlined yesterdayat a meeting of Ipswich Hospital's NHS Trust Board.

During the meeting, health bosses revealed the hospital's current financial position, which saw it end June with a deficit of £6.2million.

The hospital has to identify £25m of savings if it is to claw back from debt - £7m of which has been found so far.

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The new car park proposals will see visitor charges increase from 50p to 60p for up to 30 minutes, from £1 to £1.20 for up to one hour, from £3 to £3.50 for up to three hours and from £10 to £12 for stays longer than six hours.

As part of the plans, health bosses will re-designate 50 staff car parking spaces as public parking while staff cark park charges will be set at £15 per month.

Bosses hope to implement all of the measures by September, however a small sub group of board members is set to meet in a fortnight to discuss the idea of employing an enforcement agency in more detail.

Andrew Reed, chief executive of the trust, said the trust was walking into the car park debate with its “eyes open”.

“There is no doubt an issue like this will be uncomfortable,” he said.

“We have not increased car parking charges since December 2002. It's long time to hold down current levels. We have done well in doing that.

“If we are going to do this we have to have some form of enforcement. Some of the enforcement on site is absolutely hopeless.”

But Richard Eaton, non-executive board director, said private companies were notoriously aggressive.

“That will cause all sorts of problems for patients who are a few minutes late. It will also take money away from the hospital,” he said.