Today the government announced it will scrap former Labour plans for free hospital car parking and let hospitals decide how to run their car parks. But we know from experience some do it better than others.
While we agree there’s no “one size fits all” solution to hospital parking, our research shows that too many hospitals are using excessive charges, fines and clamping to control parking.
We’ve also found that several hospitals simply don’t bother telling patients about the concessions they’re entitled to, which means many patients are losing out.
What I can’t understand is why all hospitals can’t introduce consumer-friendly payment methods in their car parks. Then you wouldn’t have to look for those 20p coins in your wallet whilst worrying about missing your appointment.
It would also make sense for hospitals to allow patients to pay on departure. It’s often impossible to know how long you will need to stay – especially if your appointment has been delayed (and let’s face it, it often is).
How hospital car parking has improved
Since June, we’ve been working hard to make visiting a hospital car park a less stressful experience for consumers and we’ve had some great successes already:
- Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust (which clamped 1671 cars in 2008-9, making a profit of £1,851,271 from its car park) has launched a review of its car parking management following our investigation.
- University Hospital of North Staffordshire has promised to introduce more flexible payment methods for patients.
- South Tyneside NHS Trust has agreed to improve its information provision to patients about the concessions they’re entitled to.
We’re obviously pleased to see improvements starting to happen, but more needs to be done. The government has decided to put hospitals in charge of their own policy so we’ll be keeping a close eye on what’s happening on the ground.
Whilst we will continue to push hospitals at local level to improve their practices, you can do your bit by telling us your story to help us convince hospitals to up their game.