“Tax on sick people” sees hospitals make £1m from parking charges
- Credit: PA
Our hospitals have raised more than £1m each in parking charges on patients, visitors and staff.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital took in £1.49m from visitor parking in 2014-15, followed by the West Suffolk Hospital on £1.3m, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn on £1.09m, and the James Paget University Hospitals in Gorleston on £1m.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, branded the charges 'morally wrong'.
She said: 'We are concerned that hospitals in England still charge patients for car parking.
'Why is it that patients in Wales and Scotland do not have to pay to park? It is a postcode lottery and a tax on sick people who sometimes struggle to pay.'
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A series of Freedom of Information requests by the Press Association showed seven NHS trusts earned more than £3m in 2014-15 from charges, a further eight made more than £2 million a year, while a further 33 earned more than £1 million a year.
A spokesman for the N&N said: 'The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is the busiest hospital in East Anglia and one of the busiest in the country, employing 7,000 staff and seeing up to a million patients each year.
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'Our charges for car parking are comparable relative to other hospitals and sites locally. Those charges pay for security, lighting and maintenance and reflect the cost of purchasing and owning the land on which the car park is situated. Any surplus goes back into patient care.'
A spokesman for the James Paget said income from its parking charges was invested in 'a range of parking improvements', with any surplus put into healthcare provision.
He added that groups qualifying for free passes include parents frequently visiting children. Registered disabled badge holders displaying a blue badge can park for free.
Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, said the organisation had not received any complaints about parking charges in the three years since it was founded.
Richard Bearman, a Green councillor on the county council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said that, because of its good public transport links, there should be no parking for able-bodied people at the N&N.
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