Hospital parking charges a ‘tax on the sick’

PUBLISHED: 12:37 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:37 08 January 2018

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital.

Archant

Hospital parking fees have been labelled a ‘tax on the sick’ after Weston General Hospital accrued almost half a million pounds in 2016/17.

Over the period Weston Area Health Trust (WAHT) collected £491,427 from patients, visitors and staff – all of whom must pay to park on site.

Some staff pay as much as £240 per year in parking charges.

The data was collected by the Press Association, which found £174.5million was raised across the country last year in parking fees – representing a six per cent increase from 2015/16.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “Hospital car park charges amount to a tax on sickness, 
with people who are chronically ill or disabled bearing the brunt.”

WAHT offers 30 minutes’ free parking and its spokesman said its fees are cheaper than hospitals in Bristol, Yeovil and Taunton.

They added: “We also offer special discounts for patients and visitors coming in multiple times such as cancer patients and visitors with loved ones in hospital for a long stay.

“We try to keep our car parking charges as low as possible and review them annually. Every penny raised from car parking goes straight back into Weston General.

“Staff are offered a good discount with hourly rates of just 10p an hour.”

Many people took to social media to share their view.

Alexandra McVi-Wi wrote: “Blame the government. The hospital has to unfortunately try to make up its funding deficit somehow, or it could do fewer operations which I presume would be even less popular.”

Gareth Saunders commented: “Funny thing, Clevedon Hospital car park is free. Also if you attend Waterside unit you get a free pass to get out of the car park.”

Annie Gill said: “While I don’t agree with it you can’t blame them because the Government has stolen and stolen from our services to line their own pockets.”

Jay Lenehan said: “You could always get a bus if you’re visiting or it’s not serious. There’s a bus stop in the hospital grounds.”

Sharan Stephen said: “Getting staff to pay for parking, on the rubbish wages they get? Disgraceful.”

To join the discussion visit www.facebook.com/wsmercury or www.twitter.com/wsmercury

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