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Hospitals come under fire for car parking charges

Hospitals come under fire for car parking charges

by Henry James (December 2018)

BOSSES at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust have defended their policy which has seen them, and others across the country, make millions of pounds from car parking charges during the last year.

According to NHS Digital figures, NHS trusts made more than £226m from parking fees for staff, patients and visitors in the last financial year, which is an increase on the year before when the amount collected was £175m.

During the financial year 2017/18, Ormskirk Hospital made £629,187 from car parking charges and Southport Hospital £895,221, which is a combined total of £1,524,408.

However bosses at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital were quick to point out that they were not one of the four in 10 hospitals mentioned in last week's Press Association report who had increased car parking prices in the last year. Some trusts doubled their parking charges costs.

A spokesman for Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust commented: “The Trust last raised parking charges in May 2017 when 10p was added to a 20-minute to two-hour stay. It was the first rise for more than two years.”

Therese Patten, deputy chief executive at the trust, said: “Money raised from car parking charges at the trust goes towards the cost of maintaining the car parks, with any surplus going directly to patient care.”

The spokesman added: “For frequent visitors, passes are available for £10 a week or £30 for three months plus a £10 refundable deposit. These are available from the general office at either hospital site or the porters’ lodge out of office hours.”

To use the car park at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals for 0-20 minutes it is free; for 20 minutes to two hours it is £2.90; from two to four hours, it is £3.50; from four to eight hours, it is £4.30, and for more than eight hours, it is £5.30.

In the 2016-17 financial year, a total of £633,267 was collected at Ormskirk District General Hospital and £891,267 at Southport District General Hospital.

In Wales and most of Scotland car park charges have been abolished.

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association commented: “Charges for car parking at hospitals are a charge on people who are unwell, levied on them because they are unwell.

“We believe that patients should not be effectively charged for being ill.”

The Department of Health has said that patients, their families and hardworking staff should not have to face “unfair parking charges.” They added that NHS trusts were responsible for the charges and for seeing revenue going back into frontline services and added, “we want to see trusts coming up with options that put staff, patients and their families first.”

Residents going to Aintree hospital face paying £3 for a one-hour visit, which has been included in the list of the most expensive trusts in England for this fee.

Last year they made an estimated £1.8m from car parking charges.

One of the highest earning trusts in England from parking was Frimley Health in Surrey, which made £4.5m and raised costs in the last two financial years.

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