Parking Provision or Stealth Tax?
Ealing Hospital accused of unhealthy charging of the sick and their carers
Ealing Hospital has defended its parking charges, branded 'excessive' by Labour.
Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma and nine other councillors sent a letter to Ealing Hospital NHS Trust calling for a reduction in the £3.50 minimum fee for using the car park, saying the charge is too high and unfair on people who only need to stay for short periods.
"The minimum charge everyone has to pay to use Ealing Hospital's car park is, indeed, a stealth tax on the sick," said the letter.
"In the current harsh financial climate £3.50 is not a small amount of money for the unemployed, pensioners and families on average incomes."
But the trust has refused, saying the money raised from car parking helps pay for security around the hospital and patient care.
Spokesman for the trust, Jules Arnould, said: “Ealing Hospital NHS Trust, in line with other NHS Trusts in London, charge parking fees to members of the public who use the hospital car park.
“Our car parking charges are similar to or less than other hospitals in the area and the money raised is used to pay for security to manage the car park and the balance is reinvested into caring for our patients.
“If we didn’t charge any fees we would still have to pay for the security, and probably increase it, to stop massive abuse of the car park. The costs would have to be diverted from patient services.”
She said the hospital decided to charge a stock £3.50 for four hours parking because the maximum waiting time in the A&E department is that long, and the average stay for visitors to the hospital is two to three hours.
“We do provide five spaces for free parking of up to 30 minutes and also offer free parking for cancer patients receiving regular chemotherapy, and others such as parents of children being cared for in the hospital, bereaved relatives and relatives of patients being treated in intensive care.”
She also said the hospital chiefs were working with Transport for London (TfL) and Ealing Council to provide transport solutions, and pointed out the hospital is on nine major bus routes.
October 3, 2008