• car parking charges in hospitals

     I share your concern about this and I know that when people are coming into hospital the last thing they want to worry about is parking fees or keeping the parking ticket up to date.

    I also appreciate that for people such as cancer patients who need to visit hospital frequently these costs can really mount up. Indeed, as the ‘Stop the Hospital Car Parking Rip off’ campaign has noted, staff and visitors can pay as much as £12 to park for 4 hours in NHS hospitals. Macmillian Cancer Support have also highlighted that the average hospital parking cost for cancer patients is £7.66 per day and that this can be much higher in different parts of the country.

    This is an issue the previous Labour Government drew attention to and left fully costed plans in place to phase out charges for in-patients. These plans would have ensured patients were given a permit to cover the length of their stay which visitors could use to park for free. However, in 2010 the Coalition Government scrapped these plans.

    As you may be aware, in August 2014 the Department of Health issued updated guidance for hospitals on car parking charges, which stated that concessions, including free or reduced parking charges or caps, should be made available to certain groups. This was followed by a Department of Health document in March 2015 which was designed to aid implementation of these guidelines.

    I welcome any action that could help to ease the financial burden of car parking charges on patients and their visitors. However, I believe a number of questions remain regarding the implementation of the Government’s updated guidance, including whether money is being made available to Trusts to offset additional costs, if there is a risk that some Trusts will be left with the choice of either implementing the principles or threatening to cut back on services, and what measures are in place to ensure Trusts follow these guidelines.

    I believe it is important that we look at what more can be done to ensure patients, their visitors, and carers are not subject to unfair car parking charges and practices.

    It is welcome, therefore, that a Private Members Bill – the Hospital Parking Charges (Exemption for Carers) Bill – has recently been introduced to Parliament by my colleague Julie Cooper MP. This Bill is due to be debated in the House of Commons on 30th October 2015. I hope this provide an opportunity for this important issue to be debated and I can assure you that I will follow its progress closely.