Hospital Car Parking – A Tax on Sickness?

From today (1st September), all parking in NHS Hospitals in Wales became free, following the example set in Scotland nearly a decade ago. Meanwhile, in England, the charges, often exorbitant, continue unabated.

Last year around £174 million was raised through Hospital car parking charges, with £1.7 million from the Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospital Trust (BHR) which includes Queen’s Hospital. The Hospitals say that the income provides an important revenue stream to help support hospital and patient services. However, it is interesting to note that visitor car parking fees at Queen’s Hospital don’t even go back to the Hospital but go to a private funding operator.

In addition, poor public transport links to hospitals mean that driving is often the best option – particularly for residents in Upminster and Cranham where there is no direct service. For some years, Cllr Linda Hawthorn has campaigned for the 248 to follow a short diversion into Queen’s Hospital.

Like Scotland and Wales, systems are in place to ensure free parking is not abused and the people who use it are the people who need it. But car parking charges are often an unfair expense on people frequently attending NHS hospitals, whether they are patients, staff or visitors, and we should follow the example of our neighbours in Wales and Scotland and end this tax on sickness.

Cllr Clarence Barrett

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