Patient group chief hits out at parking charges as Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital raises fees
- Credit: PA
Charging people to use hospital car parks is 'alarming', according to the leader of a national patient group.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said car parking charges should not be used to 'top up NHS coffers', and called for the practice to be scrapped or strictly capped.
It comes a day after the cost of parking at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) was raised for the first time in 12 years as chiefs seek to boost income amid a cash crisis.
The N&N is facing a deficit this year of around £25m and is in financial special measures.
Among the changes to parking fees, which came into force yesterday, is a £1 increase for stays between 30 minutes to two hours and £1.50 rise for stays up to three hours.
The hospital said the extra money would be spent on patient care, maintaining the car parks, and subsidising a park and ride scheme from Costessey which costs the hospital £96,000 annually.
But Ms Murphy said: 'The shocking reality about car parking charges is that they are taking money from the sick and vulnerable to top up NHS coffers.
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'This is not what car parking charges should be used for.
'The NHS is clearly underfunded, but the onus on meeting the funding crisis should most certainly not be shouldered by the sick, injured, and vulnerable.
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'We are not talking about insignificant amounts of money either.
'It is alarming that trusts think it is OK to charge people so much money for visiting a hospital, as it makes patients question the values of the people leading the organisation.
'We take a very clear line that car parking fees need to be scrapped or strictly capped.'
There will be no change to charges at Cromer Hospital, the N&N confirmed.
A spokesman said they did not yet know how much extra money the new charges would bring in – but added they expected to get a clearer idea of this in the next few months.
'All the hospital car parks are run and maintained by Serco with the income from these car parks being received by the hospital,' the spokesman said.
'There is also a separate car park on the hospital site which is operated by a private company.'
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