The petition is spearheaded by Robert Halfon MP and supported by Headway. It has gained more than 21,000 signatures already, prompting the Government to respond by saying hospitals’ car parking policies ‘must put patients first’, but that removing charges would mean losing over £200m from patient care budgets, and result in fewer spaces being available for genuine users.
The statement went on to say that ‘income generated from parking charges is used to pay the costs of providing the parking’ and to avoid funds being taken from budgets for healthcare services. The Government also stated that ‘if any excess is generated, income generation rules require that it is used to fund clinical services’.
However, Headway has expressed it disappointment at the lacklustre response.
Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, said: “When is the government going to listen and take real action to help people when they need it most – when a loved one is in a life-or-death situation in hospital?
“To suggest that protecting vulnerable people at hospitals will cost the NHS £200m is not telling the whole story. We know some of that money ends up in the pockets of private car park companies.
“It also is worth pointing out that this figure represents a tiny fraction of the NHS budget. By trying to pass the responsibility onto individual hospitals, the government is instead just passing the buck.
“The Government guidance on ‘NHS Patient, visitor and staff car parking principles’ was introduced in 2014. But guidelines are there to be followed, not ignored.
“The argument that the NHS, one of the most advanced organisations in the world, cannot find a technical solution to ensure hospital car parks are used solely for their intended purpose is just an excuse.
“As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, we should all be proud. It’s an organisation that has our respect, our support and our love. It’s part of the fabric of our society.
“The NHS was founded on the principle of being free to all at the point of need.
"Excessive parking charges punish families who are already trying to cope with the most difficult of circumstances and the government must act now.”
The petition has already gained more than 21,000 signatures. If it gains 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament.Back