A campaign has been launched to end parking charges for carers at hospitals - and a Doncaster MP has given it her backing.
The Hospital Parking Charges Bill was debated in the House of Commons on October 30 and Rosie Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central said the exemption would apply to NHS hospitals – including Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Montagu Hospital, Mexborough – as well as walk-in centres, GP practices and private hospitals.
She said: “Hospital parking charges create an additional burden for carers, many of whom already face serious financial pressures while trying to look after their loved ones.
“Carers do a fantastic job, and without them the NHS wouldn’t be able to cope.”
The Doncaster Central MP said the level of the charges varies between NHS trusts, but the average cost in England is £39 per week.
She added: “This campaign has a great deal of support, including a number of pressure groups and politicians from across the political spectrum – but so far the government has not yet said whether it will back it.
“The cost of providing carers with free hospital parking in England would be negligible, so I believe the government should back the campaign and bring this Bill into law.”
Car parking is free in most hospitals in Scotland and Wales but few hospitals in England allow free parking for carers – a Freedom of Information request in 2014 showed that 79 per cent of English hospitals charge for parking, with fees ranging from £3.50 to as much as £20 a day.
Concessions are already available at Doncaster’s hospitals for carers with relatives who are gravely ill or who have an extended stay in hospital.
The Bill was introduced by Burnley MP Julie Cooper.
Andrew Jones, Director of estates and facilities at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals, said “Hospital car parking charges are necessary to make sure money is available for the facilities needed to provide parking, including the land required, security staff, maintenance, and lighting, this makes sure that money is not diverted from patient care to meet these unavoidable costs.
“At DBH our prices remain in line with other NHS Trusts as well as other local public sector organisations. We do offer concessions for patients and their main visitors who have to use our car parks frequently, such as long-term patients or those who visit us frequently for treatment for long-term conditions.”