Welcome for hospital parking review

A patients group in Ipswich has today welcomed a government consultation on the abolition of hospital car parking charges.

IPSWICH: A patients group in Ipswich has today welcomed a government consultation on the abolition of hospital car parking charges.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham launched an eight-week consultation yesterdayto hear people's views on getting rid of parking charges for some out-patients as well as in-patients.

It will also be looking at whether free parking should be available for visitors to all in-patients or if it should only become free for friends and relatives of those admitted for a long stay.

Bryan Wright, chairman of the Ipswich Hospital and NHS Suffolk Older People's User Group, said: “Any relaxation of the car parking charges would be welcome.

“It is a problem and I sympathise with people who have to pay for parking there on a regular basis.”

On average Ipswich Hospital raises �1million a year from parking fees, which all gets reinvested back into the maintenance of the car park and providing 24-hour security at the site.

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Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said: “We would any consultation and any national consultation which looks at this issue.

“We have to acknowledge that money we raise from car parking is reinvested in security and the car park. We would have to look carefully at how we could maintain those services in light of any future changes.

“We would love to be in a position where we do not charge for car parking but we are not there yet.”

During the Labour Party conference in September Mr Burnham pledged to phase out car park costs for in-patients over the next three years.

The consultation, which finishes on February 23, also suggests options to make parking charges fairer for out-patients, including placing a cap on charges for priority out-patient groups who attend regular hospital appointments.

Mr Burnham said: “People who are going into hospital are often at a low point in their life emotionally or financially. The cost of parking can add extra pressure to them so I am saying we need to do more to recognise that and to have fairer parking charges across the NHS.”

Do you have to pay for parking on a regular basis and have a view on this? What do Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Current parking charges at Ipswich Hospital are:

�0.70 30 minutes

�1.30 1 hour

�2.60 2 hours

�3.90 3 hours

�5.20 4 hours

�7.80 6 hours

�11 over 6 hours

Long-stay visitor charge:

�5.20 three days

�7.80 five days

Frequent patient charge: (for radiotherapy, oncology, physiotherapy and phototherapy)

�2.60 for eight visits

Contractors charge:

�5.20 a day