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Health chiefs urged to cut car park fees after three Norfolk hospitals make more than £3m profit from charges

09:30 27 October 2014

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital car park from the air. Photo: Mike Page

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital car park from the air. Photo: Mike Page

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A health minister has urged NHS chiefs to ensure regular visitors are exempt from car parking fees after it emerged that Norfolk’s three main hospitals made more than £3m profit from charges last year.

What they charge

The Department of Health issued new guidance to hospitals in August to ensure patients were getting a fair deal over parking charges.

The advice suggested concessions, including free or reduced charges or caps, for:

• People with disabilities.

• Frequent outpatient attenders.

• Visitors with relatives who are gravely ill.

• Visitors to relatives who have an extended stay in hospital.

All stays under 30 minutes at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are free.

• On weekdays between 6am and 5.30pm, up to three hours costs £2, up to four hours costs £4 and five hours or more is £6.

• Any stays between 5.30pm and 6am are £2 and all day parking at weekends is £2.

• Outpatient appointments exceeding three hours at the N&N will be validated for £2.

• Relatives of critically or terminally ill patients who stay for long periods can get their ticket validated to pay a maximum charge of £2.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn operates a pay and display system. Charges are £2.60 for 0 to 3 hours, £5.20 for three to five hours, £7.20 for five to eight hours, and £10.50 for between eight and 24 hours. A weekly ticket costs £15.50.

• Blue badge holders can park free of charge at the QEH.

At the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, parking is free for the first 30 minutes. Up two hours is £3, up to three hours is £3.50, up to four hours is £4.50, and over four hours is £6.50.

• Free passes will be provided at the JPH to parents visiting babies and children frequently, patients attending the Bure Clinic, relatives assisting at meal times and patients having cancer treatment.

• A reduced tariff of four visits for £3 will be provided for immediate family visiting a long stay or critically ill patient or claimants who are unemployed or on means tested benefits visiting immediate family. Patients attending more than one appointment within a week will be charged £1 for the second or subsequent visits.

The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds charges £3.30 for up to two hours, £4.80 for up to four hours and £7.60 for more than four hours.

• Weekly tickets for £12 can also be purchased.

• Permits and refunds are provided to members of the public who are receiving income support or family credit and patients and visitors who have to make frequent visits to the hospital.

Hospital bosses said they had no immediate plans to change charges after drivers forked out record sums during 2013/14 to attend appointments and visit family members.

Norfolk’s three acute hospitals received £4.1m from parking fees last year and spent just over £800,000 on car park maintenance, according to new figures.

Two district general hospitals - the James Paget University Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn - saw their parking incomes surpass the £1m mark for the first time.

However, parking revenue at the county’s biggest hospital, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, saw a slight decrease from £2.1m in 2012/13 to £2m in the last financial year.

West Suffolk Hospital parking

Parking income at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds increased from £700,452 in 2012/13 to more than £1m in 2013/14 after the NHS trust switched to a new private firm to manage its car parks.

Craig Black, executive director of resources, said: “All of the money we receive from car parking is reinvested into patient care, and is the equivalent of the cost of running a ward for a year.

“However, we fully appreciate that car parking charges can cause concern to some of our patients and visitors. As such, we have not increased the tariffs since appointing OCS, and will not review them again until next year.”

The new figures from a Freedom of Information request prompted politicians to urge hospital chiefs to ensure concessions or free parking is in place for those hit hardest by fees.

Norman Lamb, North Norfolk MP and government care minister, said: “There are clear national guidelines that say hospitals should not be charging patients who have to go regularly and I would want to make sure trusts are respecting that. It becomes a tax on care if they are charging people who are regularly going to hospital and that is completely unacceptable.”

“Everyone knows the challenge we face in ensuring that we can sustain our vital NHS and this is not money going to a private company - it is money going into patient care and we need to remember that.”

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, added: “Patients and families are understandably concerned about having to pay for parking especially because the NHS is supposed to be free at the point of use. However, I am all for honesty in the debate about the funding of the NHS and I would not wish for the hospital to lose important revenue, which I am sure is put to important use for patients.”

A spokesman for the N&N said there had been no change to visitor parking charges for the last ten years at the hospital, which has 7,000 staff and up to a million patients a year.

“Our charges for car parking are comparable relative to other hospitals and sites locally. Those charges pay for security, lighting and maintenance and reflect the cost of purchasing and owning the land on which the car park is situated. Any surplus goes back into patient care.”

A spokesman for the QEH added that there are were no plans to increase car parking charges and income from fees supported the operational running of the hospital, including the maintenance of car parks. Income went up from £999,417 in 2012/13 to £1,069,000 in the last financial year at the King’s Lynn site.

A spokesman for the JPH said it was difficult to determine why income went from £912,952 in 2012/13 to £1,010,000 in 2013/14. Income is spent on a variety of projects, including parking and grounds maintenance, security, and CCTV.

“Car parking charges are reviewed annually. Our parking charges for visitors increased slightly in July 2014. We compare our parking charges with other hospitals in the region and our pricing is considered along with the service we provide,” said the spokesman.

17 comments

  • Like many things that are not regulated IT means that many have to suffer... This applies to utility bills immigration, tax avoidance schemes just to mention three of a very long list. And of course we have hospital car parking charges which are far from consistent around the country ripping people off with excessive charges . If hospitals rely so much on car park charges then after countless government changes to the NHS over the past 20 years the problem must be more serious by government creation than it appears to be... With so many government changes about one every two years you would think that the NHS will be running like clockwork instead it seems to get worse.. After every government intervention... Which is totally crazy... Creating more hardship and problems than they solve is no way to run an NHS business... At 50p an hour and a guaranteed plenty of customers per day .... A big profit every year can be still made from hospital car parking... And will be deemed to be more sensible and affordable to the majority and this could be imposed nationwide one price per hour.... When overpricing and greed gets into the equation we then have hardship and problems created and this is where we are at the current time... Such a simple policy but the government and authorities don't do simple.. Create greed and frustrated to the public seems to be government policy... And people are expected to vote for more the same next year...

    Report this comment

    Lionel

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

  • Criticise Archants little darling Smith, and get censored. Denying us our right to Freedom of Expression, still, 1st November this should all change, or Archant will be breaking EU law.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • Hospital charges being decreased is long overdue but how do you determine who is a regular visitor? The hold they have over you is that there is no other means of parking near by, so you have no choice. The care at the Norfolk and Norwich is diabolical; they would need to treble their profits from the car park for the care to come anywhere close to reasonable. samphirelover I don't see why the smoking is an issue; surely the issue being the people that don't throw their butts away?

    Report this comment

    Courtisans-House

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • For that kind of extra money we should have ample parking spots at JPH, a nice sheltered place to wait for the bus (the last time I waited for the bus I was almost blown away), a valet or helper for those patients who need help getting too and from their cars and a good, free parking spot for the employees. I'm not advocating free parking for patients if the excess money is wisely and transparently spent. I do object excess funds designated for maintaining parking and security sinking into a vague black-hole of "other unspecified projects".

    Report this comment

    ATaylor

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • True samphirelover , but hopefully those smokers will die early & not cost the N.H.S. too much.

    Report this comment

    Sonia Head

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • I'd like some of the money that the N and N make being spent on security people to monitor this Non smoking site. It is an absolute disgrace that patients, visitors and staff are still smoking on site when it has been a Non Smoking site for many years. The signs are huge and very visible but people just ignore it because there is nobody to enforce it.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • On the subject of parking fees for staff , virtually everyone who travels by car to their place of work has to pay for parking, & it's usually a sight more than £24 a month. If hospital parking was offered for free , people would abuse the system & would have no incentive to leave , the car parks would be full in perpetuity.

    Report this comment

    Sonia Head

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • I see nothing wrong with hospitals making money out of their car parks to reinvest in the services they provide. However, the sums would be much greater in the future, if more spaces were provided and therefore some though (particularly at the N&N) needs to be given to the building of multi-story car parks at these venues.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • MPs haven't had a pay rise. It's only a suggestion at the moment by a pay review body which does not have a single MP amongst its number. MPs themselves don't want it. On the subject of car parking which should pay for the time we actually park at the hospital and not be charged by a tariff.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • This article doesnt really mention the fact that staff have to pay to park their cars too. I think the going rate is about £24 per month.....

    Report this comment

    Tootyfrooty

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • Chlo3 smith and Norman lamb do themselves no favours in their replies. What I say is roll on the general election someone is in for a shock We pay taxes for our NHS NHS STAFF HAVE A MISERLY 1 % pay rise and MPs take a 10% pay rise. PFI AND THE BANKERS ALONG WITH MPS get the best again

    Report this comment

    edifir

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • A huge number of hospitals charge for parking. Perhaps it's the NHS's way of trying to keeping us healthy. You have to look after yourself, because you can't afford to keep going to hospital.

    Report this comment

    Lover of Norfolk

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • Car parking charges for hospital staff is out of order, how much has the JPH made out of there staff on these high charges, it also states money is being spent on car parks and other areas, just drive around the Paget at night and see how many lights are out making it unsafe for staff and visitors to see especially round the Louise Hamilton centre.

    Report this comment

    loco

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • How else can the Trust Board pay their marketising bosses,the PFI bankers, who have first call on NHS cash?

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • Some of the money goes on " grounds" Well there you have the problem with NHS management thinking. Instead of money being spent solely on medical provision there is far too much sent on interior design and furnishings and stupid badly managed shrubberies. If was in QE2 with C Diff and norovirus constantly a problem I would be more concerned that cleaners know not to wipe around one patients table and drinks and then move on to the next with the same cloth than about a few bits of grass and silver birch trees. And I know that when I have been in any hospital for more than a few days I didnt care if I was looking at shrubs needing constant maintenance or bare paving that could be left alone for months at a time. Tarmac all the areas set aside for parking, get rid of the wet hen flower beds and shrubberies and save money that way-leave the parks and gardens to someone else.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • The profit would have been much greater, if one could find somewhere to damn well park.

    Report this comment

    Cuthbert J. Twillie

    Monday, October 27, 2014

  • So who is Lamb writing to to complain about hospital car parking charges? Presumably he will be writing to himself - the thing is, will he read it?

    Report this comment

    sidevalve

    Monday, October 27, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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