Monday, 3 March 2008

Free Parking

Most tabloids papers have given a lot of inches to the fact that free parking will be offered to NHS patients in almost all hospitals in Wales by 2011. In many cases, free spaces will be offered to staff, patients and visitors as early as this April. For those who have existing contractual obligations, fees will be limited for the remainder of the terms, then scrapped. In Scotland, fees are now capped at £3 per day. In England, the average is £4 per day. Figures for England and Wales show that almost £100 million was earned between 2006 and 2007.

Clearly, parking charges within NHS hospitals etc, are a tax on the sick. However, the £100 million will have to be made up from somewhere else. South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust earned £362,362 in 2005/2006 alone.

Every body wants to see free parking in hospitals, especially those who have members of their families in hospital for long periods of time. However, nobody wants to see a reduction in services because of the introduction of free parking.

Before the scheme is introduced in England, assurances must be given that any loss of revenue must be made up from central government funding.

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