In tough times, there seems to be one growth industry in this country – hospital parking charges.
Exploiting the fact that people have to go to hospital for appointments or to visit sick relatives is proving a good earner for NHS trusts and the companies they employ to run their car parks. They’ve got a captive audience and they’re going to make them pay.
Never mind that we already cough up plenty for the health service via our taxes. We then have to pay again for the privilege of being able to park if we need treatment or are visiting sick relatives or friends.
Of course, there are some who can use public transport. But what about those who are incapacitated in some way and need a lift to get them to hospital?
Last year bosses at the Queen Alexandra Hospital at Cosham rightly attracted criticism for increasing parking charges. Long-term cancer patients were told they had to start paying £1.20 a day instead of £1.20 a week.
Now the mother of a disabled toddler has highlighted the issue of parking charges at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
Isobel Wood takes her two-year-old daughter Poppy, who suffers from a genetic condition that affects her joints, for regular appointments at Gosport Medical Centre.
She has been paying out money in charges – £1 a time for two hours and £2 for four hours – she says she can ill afford.
It now transpires that a disabled badge issued to Poppy means Mrs Wood can park anywhere in the car park for free, whereas she was originally told she could only use two disabled bays that were never available.
But others using the car park, which also serves the hospital’s minor injury unit, still have to pay up.
Plus there is a pay and display system in operation so people have to guess how long they are going to be and hope they’ve not overpaid. Inevitably, some must be paying more than they need to.
We believe it’s high time the government carried out a review of hospital parking in this country – and came up with a system that’s free of charge to users.