Despite being exempt, cancer patients are still being forced to pay NHS parking, five years after hospitals were urged to make car parks free for frequent visitors.
A Daily Mail investigation has found as many as 42% of hospitals have ignored Government guidelines completely, charging patients and other visitors extortionate rates to use NHS car parks.
And to make matters worse, 60% of trusts hire private parking enforcement firms to fine patients who haven’t bought the right ticket…
In 2014, the Department of Health and Social Care introduced new hospital parking guidelines in response to a campaign to abolish fees altogether.
Hospitals should now provide free parking for ‘frequent visitors,’ however, responses from 101 trusts suggests that more than half of hospitals continue to charge cancer patients to park while receiving treatment.
Robert Halfon, Tory MP, an avid campaigner against hospital parking fees, criticised the Government’s effort: “The whole thing is a Wild West, the Government guidelines have hardly made any difference.
“Why not alleviate something which is causing misery for millions of people on a regular basis? It’s unjust and private companies are making profit off the vulnerable.”
Around 15% of hospitals provide ‘limited’ free parking – some on a first-come, first-served basis – while even some of those offering free parking limit this to only a small number of patients.
It’s not just cancer patients being hit by excessive parking charges – over half (56%) of frequent visitors are also being forced to pay out when receiving their regular treatments. This includes those having kidney dialysis or undertaking rehabilitation after surgery.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care commented: “Patients and their families should not be caused additional stress by unfair parking charges at NHS hospitals.
“Our guidance is clear that charges must be reasonable and concessions should be offered to groups who most need help.”
Standard hospital parking fees are around £15 for a 24-hour stay, with the Royal Free Hospital in London charging the most, at £24 a day.
Failing to buy the correct ticket in an NHS hospital could lead to parking fines of up to £100 a time.
While councils and private companies are raking in the cash by charging ridiculous amounts in parking charges and fines there are some really easy ways that you could save some cash throughout the year on parking. Take a look at some top ways to bring down the cost of it by having a read of our guide to save on parking in 2019 and see how much you could save.