Car parking charges

Hospital doors

Travel costs, like car parking charges, can prevent some people from attending appointments which are vital to their health.

It's alarming to hear that some patients are not attending appointments due to reasons such as high car parking charges.

In February 2010 the Department of Health (DH) in England asked for options on how the system could be improved for NHS patients and their families.

Your views

We asked heart patients, carers, and health service staff to provide us with their views on this issue, and we would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit their views. Here's what you told us:

  • while charges may be needed to meet the costs of running car parks, these are simply too high
  • there should be a daily limit on car parking charges
  • patients staying in hospital for two nights or more should have free parking
  • patients who have a series of two or more appointments should have free parking
  • there is much more that needs to be done to promote existing discounts for people on low incomes as most people do not know they exist
  • the NHS could be doing more to promote walking and cycling to appointments for people well enough to do so, as this would help to improve the nation's heart health.

We passed these views directly to the DH.

In September 2010, the Westminster Government announced that they do not plan to introduce any regulations or guidance on hospital car parking. Instead they want patients to work with their local hospitals to improve parking facilities and charges. We will continue to press for changes to hospital car parking charges so that these do not provide barriers to patients seeking care.

Parking charges across the UK

Car parking charges are a devolved issue across the UK as outlined below:

  • in Wales, the majority of hospitals currently have free parking and by the end of 2011 this will be free for patients, staff and visitors
  • in Scotland, car parking is free other than at car parks operated under the Private Finance Initiative
  • in Northern Ireland, parking is free for very ill patients and their families. Charges for other patients and visitors are a matter for individual trusts

For further information on any of the above, please email [email protected].