New data has revealed the most and least expensive hospital parking in the UK, with some NHS facilities charging visitors and patients up to £4 an hour.
It is estimated that the NHS makes around £250 million a year from parking charges in what has been called a tax on the sick by critics of the practice.
Now a study of parking charges at 359 NHS sites around the country has revealed the huge differences between locations and uncovered the most and least expensive hospitals.
London, predictably, dominates the list, compiled by Little Loans, but several locations outwith the capital come close, with hospitals in Birmingham, Sheffield and Hereford among those charging members of the public up to £5 for two hours’ parking.
The most expensive hospital in the UK is the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where it costs £3 to park for one hour but £7 for two hours. Behind it, Guy’s and St Thomas’ both charge £6.40 for two hours and all 10 of the most expensive hospitals are in London.
Some hospitals outwith London, including those in Cambridge, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees charge a flat £4, making a one-hour visit more expensive but a two-hour stay cheaper.
The most expensive NHS car parks (outside London)
Hospital Town/City Cost – 2 Hours Hereford County Hospital Hereford £5.00 Yeovil District Hospital Yeovil £5.00 Epsom Hospital Epsom £5.00 St George’s Hospital Sheffield £5.00 Lister Hospital Stevenage £4.60 Birmingham Women’s Hospital Birmingham £4.60 Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Birmingham £4.60 Selly Oak Hospital Birmingham £4.60 Royal Surrey County Hospital Guildford £4.50 Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cambridge £4.40 York Hospital York £4.40 Birmingham Children’s Hospital Birmingham £4.40
Outwith London, several hospitals expect visitors and patients to pay £5 for two hours’ parking, including Hereford County Hospital; Yeovil District Hospital;Epsom Hospital and
St George’s Hospital in Sheffield.
For friends and families visiting patients, as well as those attending appointments, the charges are an extra burden but only 46 of all the hospitals surveyed offer free parking, and just one of them is in London. Derbyshire, where eight hospitals don’t charge, was best served for free parking, followed by North Yorkshire (six) and Cornwall (four).
The most expensive NHS car parks (London)
Hospital Town/City Cost – 2 Hours Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Chelsea £7.00 Guy’s Hospital Southwark £6.40 St Thomas’ Hospital Lambeth £6.40 Whittington Hospital Highgate £6.00 Lambeth Hospital Stockwell £6.00 Maudsley Hospital Camberwell £6.00 St Mary’s Hospital Paddington £5.80 Central Middlesex Hospital Park Royal £5.10 Ealing Hospital Southall £5.10 Northwick Park Hospital Brent £5.10
Free parking for more patients
From this April NHS hospitals in England will be forced to offer free car parking to thousands more patients and visitors following a government ruling.
Many hospitals already offer reductions or free parking for some groups but under the new policy, all 206 sites in England will have to offer free parking to blue badge holders,
outpatients with long-term conditions who have to attend regular appointments, and, at specific times, groups including parents of sick children staying in hospital and people who work night shifts.
Hospital parking fees were abolished in Scotland and Wales in 2008 although some Scottish hospitals continue to charge because they are tied into contracts with private companies.