South Yorkshire MP calls for hospital parking charges to be scrapped

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion.
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A South Yorkshire MP has called for hospital car parking charges to be scrapped labelling them a "stealth tax on society's most vulnerable people".

Sarah Champion, Rotherham MP, said she had written to bosses at the town's hospital and said it was "incredibly disappointing" it charged blue badge holders to park.

She said: "Blue badge holders are much less likely to be able to use alternative modes of transportation or to park elsewhere. They may also be more likely to be regular visitors to the hospital.

"NHS Hospitals made a record £174 million from car parking charges in 2016-2017 and as many as two thirds of hospital trusts are now making more than £1 million a year. More than half of trusts now charge disabled people to park.

"The NHS is, of course, under huge financial pressure, but I do not believe that parking charges should be used to raise revenue. They are a stealth tax on some of society’s most vulnerable people.

"A debate on hospital parking charges took place in Parliament last week and I hope that the Government will recognise the strong, cross party support for their abolition and act to end this unfair tax on the sick.2

A spokesman for Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said: "It’s not uncommon for disabled parking spaces at hospitals to be chargeable. Over recent years the number of people misusing disabled parking bays has continued to increase leading to many people with blue badges unable to park in accessible bays.

"To ensure we can provide the best possible access for blue badge holders whilst making sure it is a fair payment structure for all users, we have taken the difficult decision to introduce charges for these bays, bringing them in line with charges for the rest of the car park. There are still 47 free disabled parking spaces on the Rotherham Hospital site.

"This approach is supported by guidance issued by the NHS Confederation.

“We will continue to offer a number of concessions to visitors and patients who are at the hospital for lengthy periods or have regular visits and appointments. Those who visit frequently should speak to their health professional or ward manager to check if they are eligible for concessionary parking.”