From the TUC

Cuts Watch #240: Free NHS Parking

13 Sep 2010, by in Cuts Watch

Health Minister Simon Burns has announced that the government will not go ahead with the previous government’s plans to make car parking free in English NHS hospitals. Car parking is free in Wales and Scotland, but the NHS in England raises £110 million a year from the charges – which average £1.09 an hour.

Macmillan Cancer Support (which has been running a campaign to abolish the charges) reports that the average cancer patient has to make 53 trips to hospital for their treatment, 60% still pay the full charge and 45% say the charges have caused them stress or worry. Ciaran Devine, Macmillan’s Chief Executive, denounced the charges as an “unjust tax on illness.” The RAC has raised concerns that patients face higher insurance premiums if they have to park in areas with a higher risk of theft.

2 Responses to Cuts Watch #240: Free NHS Parking

  1. Paul Barter
    Sep 14th 2010, 12:51 am

    Free parking has a cost which has to come out of the budget for something else (in this case, the NHS).

    Hospitals and the UK’s National Health Service have a clear mission – health, not parking. I don’t see how this mission can be stretched far enough to justify using the health budget to subsidize all hospital parking.

    Yes, please DO help chronically ill patients and their families with getting access to hospitals. But don’t do it by making all of the parking free!

    Instead of free parking, give a reasonable travel allowance to those who really need it, such as long-term or needy patients and their families who visit them.

    For more on this argument see http://www.reinventingparking.org/2010/09/hospital-parking-charges-learning.html

  2. Richard Exell

    Richard Exell
    Sep 14th 2010, 10:41 am

    I’ve followed Paul’s link and this does seem like a reasonable argument to me. But there are a couple of problems:

    * One is the slippery slope – when you start making various aspects of using the NHS means-tested it gets a lot easier to apply the same principles to others. (On the other hand we don’t make the journey to the hospital free.)
    * The other is an aspect of the Macmillan campaign I didn’t have space for when I wrote this item – NHS Trusts are supposed to provide free parking for cancer patients now, but most aren’t doing so.

    I’d be interested in what other readers think.