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Hospital charges premium for parking

Hospital charges premium for parking
 

Pricey parking at the Whittington. Pic: failing_angel via Flickr

Parking charges at the Whittington Hospital are the third highest in London and the fifth highest in England, according to new data.

Data company SSentif analysed figures from 197 hospital and mental health trusts in England and found that more than a quarter increased car parking charges for patients and visitors between 2010 and 2011.

The national average is 77p for an hour, based on a three-hour stay. However, the Whittington in Archway charges £2 an hour, a price hike of a third from 2010.

A hospital spokesperson said: “There is limited parking at the Whittington Hospital site and visitors can only park after 6pm.

“We do provide free parking for disabled drivers during the day and also for patients undergoing regular treatment such as chemotherapy and blood transfusion, as well as family or friends picking patients up from the day treatment centre and emergency cases.

“The Whittington is a central London hospital and is extremely well served by buses, underground and overground trains.”

Analysis revealed that patients and visitors to hospitals in London and south-east England pay the most for parking.

The most expensive hospital car park in London, and indeed England, is at Ealing Hospital NHS Trust, where one hour will set you back £3.50.

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust saw the steepest rise; a 100 per cent increase from 50p to £1 an hour.

Excluding the trusts that do not charge and those without parking facilities, England’s cheapest fee is at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust in Southampton, previously known as the Hampshire Partnership, where parking costs 5p an hour.

The Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy described the charges as a “tax on the sick”.

She said: “The extraordinary rise in the price of car parking at our hospitals is alarming. While Wales and Scotland have scrapped car parking charges altogether, some hospitals have continued to raise their fees.

“It is often money patients do not have in these troubled financial times. Car parking charges make a mockery of a service supposed to be free at the point of need.”

It is estimated that the NHS makes over £100m a year from hospital parking charges.

Health minister Simon Burns, responding officially to the findings said: “No one should be paying extortionate amounts to park in an NHS car park, but introducing free hospital car parking could cost the NHS more than £100m – money that would otherwise be spent on patient care.”

How the Whittington compares to other London trusts

Interactive graphics by Rebecca Ratcliffe and Antonia Kanczula

 

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