Lincolnites could not see parking fees at the city’s hospital abolished, as the government looks to have changed its mind over the issue.
Amongst the debate over not cutting car parking cost in hospitals, it has emerged that hospitals in Lincoln, Grantham, and Boston make £1 million a year from parking.
Despite Labour’s promise to end pay and display parking in hospitals in the last government, the coalition government may keep it in place.
Spokesperson for the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust Anna Temple said that none of the money raised is for profit however.
“Our car parks (Lincoln, Grantham and Boston) take around £1million a year and none of this is profit, it is all re-invested into our car parks,” she said.
The cost of hospital parking in England per year comes to around £110 million, with the average cost of a ticket being £1.09 per hour.
At Lincoln County Hospital an hour’s parking costs £1.20.
Mixed reactions to plans’ outcome
Speaking to the BBC, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burham feels that patients and their visitors will be disappointed that the cut could be scrapped.
“Car parking charges make it harder for families to visit their loved ones in hospital, and Labour’s funded plan to phase them out would have made a real difference.”
Chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support Ciaran Devane feels that the parking charges are an unjust tax on illness.
“Nine out of 10 people believe that cancer patients should get free parking at hospital. The government should listen and scrap hospital car parking charges for cancer patients in England,” Devane said.
“Parking charges are a huge burden for cancer patients who typically make 53 trips to hospital during treatment,” she added.
Lincoln Conservative MP Karl McCartney said: “It is important to remember that hospital trusts use parking fees to fund patient services.
“Especially now, in a time when money is so tight, the resources to fund this subsidy would have to come from other areas of hospitals’ budgets, potentially putting the quality and efficiency of care provided by front-line services at risk.
“The new government has no plans to press forward with the Labour administration’s plans to abolish hospital car parking charges, which, I feel, would have led to widespread abuse by non-patients.
“It is also important to recognise that National Health Service organisations have the autonomy to make decisions that best suit their local circumstances.
“This includes decisions on charges for car parking. However, should charges discourage patients from accessing their services or friends and families from visiting patients, or prevent staff doing their jobs properly, those NHS organisations have a responsibility to look at that further.’
In Scotland and Wales, parking is free in most hospitals, while in Northern Ireland certain priority groups do not have to pay for a ticket.