Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd has welcomed new guidance published by the Department of Health which calls for concessions to be granted to patients and staff parking at hospitals – and for fines to be imposed only when reasonable.
Mr Lloyd said, “I have been calling for some time for parking charges at our hospital to be reviewed, and I welcome the guidance published last weekend which calls for further concessions to be made.
“Whilst the guidance does not call for parking charges at hospitals to be abolished, importantly it does call for both greater transparency in the amount raised through parking and, also, that free parking or reduced charges be considered in some cases.”
There is a debate in Parliament over hospital parking charges next week which Mr Lloyd will be speaking at.
Publicity surrounding the debate has already seen the Department for Health issue guidance to NHS Trusts that suggests free parking or reduced charges should be available for the following groups: frequent outpatient attenders; visitors with relatives who are gravely ill; people with disabilities (may be limited to or extended beyond the Blue Badge scheme); visitors to relatives who have an extended stay in hospital; staff working shifts that mean public transport cannot be used.
Mr Lloyd added, “The guidance specifically states that there should be free or reduced charges for people who may be worst affected.
“Going to hospital can often be a very distressing time and no one should have to worry about the cost of parking when visiting or working at our hospital. I have written to Darren Grayson asking that our hospital lead the way in implementing the guidance issued and to confirm with me exactly how the hospital Trust aims to respond to the new parking guidelines.”
Darren Grayson, DGH chief executive, added, “The Trust is leading the way in respect to this new guidance. We already offer discounts for those who need to attend on a regular basis and a range of concessions and exemptions to accommodate users such as for those on low income, cancer patients and their relatives, blue badge holders as well as the relatives of patients who are on the end of life care.
“We have operated a ‘pay on exit’ system, a recommendation of this new guidance, since February 2010. In all major respects the Trust’s car parking arrangements are already compliant with this new guidance as Mr Lloyd would have known if he had contacted the Trust before issuing his press release.”