Hospital car parking charge scandal

I was flicking through a copy of my local free newspaper, the Sandwell Chronicle, the other day, and one story had me re-reading to ensure my eyes weren’t deceiving me.

Last year, the 3 hospitals in the Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust – Sandwell General, City Hospital and Rowley Regis Community Hospital – brought in more than £1.5 million in car parking charges for staff and visitors. Here is how the local daily Express and Star reported it.

Now, hospital car parking charging is a particular bugbear of mine. Having spent more time than I would have liked during the past couple of years visiting various hospitals in the Birmingham and Black Country area, I have come to resent these charges vehemently. My logic is thus; I am visiting my loved one – or rushing them to A&E, in some cases – why should I be charged upwards of £2.50 for the privilege?

I also think charging staff to pay for car parking, as some do, is a bit rich. How many other places of work charge for spaces? I certainly don’t where I work.

These hospitals are by no means the only – or worst – examples, just the ones in my local area. For instance, last year the Birmingham Post reported that University Hospital (nee Walsgrave) in Coventry made £1.9 million from its parking charges.

While I understand that maintaining a car park does cost – paying for security staff, CCTV, upkeep of the land and automatic barriers etc – I doubt that it is that much.

It’s the way the costs seem to keep spiralling that irks me as well. I remember when some hospitals first started charging back in the 1990s, and then it was usually a flat rate of 50p. I didn’t have a problem with that. But now, they seem to increase annually – Sandwell & West Birmingham’s charges are going up by 20% in April – and it does tot up quickly if a loved one is having an extended stay in hospital.

For those on benefits or a pension, these charges come as even more of a whammy. Even the 8-tokens-for-£10 offers for those coming in every day still take a fair chunk of an average pensioner’s weekly budget.

The charges smack of profiteering – especially at those hospitals that have outsourced car parking to private firms – and, as ever, the poor old consumer gets hit in the pocket.

What would I do? In an ideal world, make it free. Realistically, go back to the flat rate of 50p – surely enough to cover the costs of maintaining a car park.

I’d be interested to hear others’ opinions on this…

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2 Comments

Filed under health care

2 responses to “Hospital car parking charge scandal

  1. fluffosaur

    When I used to work for the maternity department at the hospital (night shift between 10pm and 7am) I used to let the dad’s have free parking.

    We had tickets we could give out if the machines were “not working”. When they came rushing in with their wife having left the car engine running outside & calling out for the midwives I’d catch them on the way back to the car and hand them the ticket.

    The hospital I worked for charged £5 for the first hour of parking, and then £2.50 per hour after that. It was a flat rate of over £30 for 24 hours.

    Given a woman’s labour is completely unpredictable and they could be parked for hours I took pity on these poor guys and ensured it was one less worry off their heads !!

    Hospital parking is criminal. I remember when my grandad was in hospital with terminal cancer we had to pay £10 for 2 hours parking. It wasn’t even close to the hospital !!

  2. Pingback: Hospital car parking charges need reform « Social care blog

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