Coventry University Hospital has quietly abolished its cap on parking fees paid by visitors and patients who use the hospital's car park. This has unsurprisingly angered residents and patients alike, especially as the health bosses did not announce the change. The cap meant that regular users of the car park would not be faced with unlimited charges, paying no more than a £150 in a year. Anyone racking up more than that in charges could claim the money back. It costs £7.70 to use the car park for 24 hours.
This move is a disgraceful tax on the sick and their visitors. It targets the most vulnerable and those who are often already under increased financial pressure that illness can bring. While the council was unwilling to try and justify its decision on camera, ITV Central invited me on to discuss the issue. You can watch the interview above.
The Patients Association have been quick to point out how particularly vulnerable patients are affected the most by parking charges. Their Chief Executive Katherine Murphy said :
Charges hit patients hard – particularly elderly people or those who are vulnerable and unable to use public transport. Also affected will be those with chronic conditions that mean they go to hospital regularly. It’s the last thing patients, relatives and carers need.
We have long opposed hospital parking charges; taxpayers have already paid for the construction of the hospital and the car park. Why must they pay twice when they are unfortunate enough to have to make use of the facilities? What is particularly galling about this decision though is that it is increasing pressure on those who either require regular medical treatment or the relatives and friends of those who do. Talk about kicking someone when they’re down. The exemption eased some of the brunt of car park charges on those who really needed it.
Hospitals must not view car parking charges as a revenue raiser. Health chiefs must focus on spending the huge NHS budget more efficiently by cutting out bureaucracy and focusing on patient care. The NHS has to make tough spending decisions but it shouldn’t resort to dipping into the pockets of patients instead of finding ways to save money.