Campaigners have taken a major step towards ending the ‘stealth tax’ on NHS hospital parking by submitting a petition to parliament, after nearly half of hospitals raise hourly fees.
The petition was delivered by motoring campaign group FairFuel UK and Conservative MP Robert Halfon, after being signed by over 25,000 people.
Speaking outside Downing Street, FairFuel UK founder Howard Cox told the Press Association: “It is a stealth tax, it is social injustice and it has got to stop. Technology has moved on. It is easier to monitor people parking wrongly. The technology is there for people to police the car parks.”
The Liberal Democrats have previously labelled the charges a “tax on sickness” however little has been done.
At Salford Royal hospital parking is free for the first half an hour, however if you wish to stay longer you will have to pay for it. Prices range from £2 for 0-3 hours, all the way up to £6 for 6 or more hours. Although this may not seem like a lot to some people, for others this can be a rather large expense. There is however free parking for patients who meet a certain criteria. Patients who are visiting the hospital; more than 3 times a week, for cancer treatment or to visit terminally ill family members are exempt from payment.
In 2014, the Government introduced guidance suggesting free or reduced parking should be available for staff, blue badge holders and visitors of gravely ill relatives. This however has not proved to be the case, with 47% of hospitals ignoring the guidelines and increasing their hourly fees.
Salford Royal are part of the 47% who choose not to fully abide by these guidelines, with charges in place for blue badge holders. Although the charge for a blue badge holder is reduced to £2, it is still not free as the guidelines suggest.
Hospital parking fees are not a problem for the entire UK though. The majority of hospitals in Scotland and Wales continue to provide free parking for patients and visitors, as those across the border struggle.
Do you think that patients and visitors should have to pay at Salford Royal? Get in touch with us on twitter @SalfordNow or by email on Now@salford.ac.uk and let us know what you think.