Consultation Could See End to NHS Parking Charges

Department of Health to review fees at hospitals for visitors and out-patients

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The Department of Health is to review parking charges at hospitals which could lead to abolition of fees for in-patients’ visitors and out-patients.

A new consultation launched by Health Secretary, Andy Burnham includes options to give all in-patients free hospital car parking for their visitors, giving access to free parking for out-patients who need to attend a series of appointments, or placing a cap on charges for priority out-patient groups who attend regular hospital appointments.

Each in-patient would receive a permit for the length of their stay, which family and friends can use.

Options looking at providing better subsidised charges for priority out-patient groups, such as cancer patients and those attending multiple outpatient appointments, would also be phased in over the next three years, as efficiency savings from back-office costs and reducing bureaucracy allow. These savings will be reinvested back into the NHS where it matters most — for the benefit of patients and their families.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “I want to see a fairer and more consistent approach to parking across the NHS, which recognises the pressure that patients and their families come under. People in hospital are often at a low point in their lives – emotionally and financially – and high parking charges can add to stress or limit visits from family and friends. I have said I want a more people-centred NHS and that means giving more attention to these issues to get them right.

“At the moment charging practice varies greatly and the public have no clear sense of the principles beneath it. In particular, I want an approach that helps the sickest people that have to spend the most time in hospital.

“I am launching this consultation to develop a clear set of principles which balance fairness with the financial pressures that hospitals will be under in the coming period. I want to hear peoples views on how we get this balance right, both from patients and from staff working in the NHS.”
The eight week consultation will close on 23 February 2010 and views on the proposals are welcome from the public, patients, the NHS and stakeholders.




December 30,2009