PATIENTS at Whipps Cross Hospital have demanded ‘ridiculous’ hospital car park charges are reformed, after the Scottish Parliament voted to abolish fees in all NHS premises north of the border.
Visitors to Whipps Cross Hospital currently have to fork out £2 to use a space for up to two hours with prices rising to £15 for a full day.
But critics claim that it is the needy who bear the brunt of this ‘stealth tax on the sick’.
Mum-of-three Pat Ilett, of Thornwood Close in South Woodford, has seen her mother, father and partner all die at Whipps Cross in recent years and still has to visit there regularly to receive treatment for a persistent hip problem.
She said: “It’s ridiculous. I don’t mind paying a token charge of 50p if is goes into the NHS, but it’s wrong to be charged 50p every half-an-hour for the time you visit.
“Sometimes you can turn up for a 2pm appointment but still be waiting ages afterwards and have to pay for it all.
“Paying also means that there should be a properly maintained car park with a security guard going around to make sure your car isn’t vandalised.”
The Whipps Cross hospital trust earned £552,000 last year from car parking, but some other hospitals around the country are earning even more, with Southampton University NHS Hospital Trust topping the league with £2.4 million.
Car park charges at Goodmayes’ King George Hospital start at £1.60 for three hours but that rises to £15 for an entire day.
Health Service minster Ben Bradshaw played down the likliehood of charges being abolished in England, saying it was not a sensible use of limited resources to subsidise car parking at hospitals for everyone.
He added: “In England, hospital car parking charges are decided locally by individual trusts to cover the cost of running and maintaining a car park.”
A spokeswoman for Whipps Cross said it had no plans to scrap car park charges.
She added: “Car parking income helps to fund road and pavement resurfacing and marking, improving and renewing street lighting, safety improvements such as pedestrian crossings, road marking for ambulance and disabled bays, maintenance of car park surfaces, provision of external CCTV camera systems and improving cycling facilities for staff and visitors to the trust.
“The trust has concession payment arrangements for the relatives of long stay or very ill patients, hardship cases, cancer and renal patients and their relatives or carers.”