Patients and hospital users have hit out at the NHS, as more than a quarter of hospital trusts have increased their parking charges for patients and visitors.
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Data has been collected from 197 hospital and mental health trusts, and has revealed that 28% of them have upped their parking prices in the past year.
While some hospital trusts have brought their prices down, many have increased charges ñ some by more than 100%.
ìWe expect patients whose healthcare needs require frequent or extended hospital visits to be treated fairly, and car parking policies should not discriminate against them,î said Health Minister Simon Burns.
The Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust was found to be one of the biggest culprits of parking charge increases.
It was found to be charging patients 200% more for parking in 2010/11 than the previous year, raising its prices from 25p an hour on average to 75p.
Other NHS Trusts guilty of large increases were United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which increased prices by 112%, and Stockport NHS Foundation Trust ñ charging 100% more last year than the previous year.
It was found that car parks in NHS Trusts in the South West were the most affordable, charging an average of 52p per hour.
ìNHS organisations must make the best use of public funds, and this includes setting car parking charges at a rate which is reasonable for the communities they serve and provides appropriate concessions,î added Simon Burns.
ìThese figures illustrate the fact that three-quarters of hospitals have reduced their charges or left them unchanged.î
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