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'Even Telford Shopping Centre is cheaper': MP Lucy Allan attacks Shropshire hospital parking charge increase

By James Pugh | Telford | Health | Published:

Telford MP Lucy Allan has called for hospital bosses to rethink increasing parking charges at Shropshire's two main hospitals.

Lucy Allan has attacked the parking charges increase

Ms Allan said it was unacceptable that it is cheaper to park at Telford Shopping Centre than it is to park at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital.

She has written a letter to Julia Clarke, director of corporate governance at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

It comes after it was announced that parking at PRH and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital would increase from November 1.

The cost of parking for up to 24 hours is to rise from £3.50 to £8, with similar rises for shorter visits.

Ms Allan's letter states: "I write on behalf of my constituents in Telford to object in the strongest possible way to the increase parking charges at the Princess Royal Hospital.

"This increase will have a significant impact on the must vulnerable residents who require regular appointments. It is unacceptable that it is cheaper to park at Telford Shopping Centre than it is to park at the Princess Royal Hospital.

"It is not a choice to come to hospital and charging people to do so is at odds with the whole ethos of the NHS.

"Telford is an area with pockets of significant disadvantage and health inequality. We are also an area with lower than average incomes and poor public transport.

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"You will be aware that I previously campaigned to scrap hospital parking charges and have urged the trust not to renew the existing contract when it expires.

"Far too much of the parking charge goes to the contractor and not the hospital and it is wholly wrong for the parking contractor to make money out of sick and injured people and their families.

"It is entirely misplaced to refer to parking income in the context of the number of nurses it could fund. Nurses are paid for by the tax payer.

"I urge you to rethink this increase and give proper consideration to the local Telford context. I would like to meet at the earliest opportunity to discuss this."

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Julia Clarke, director of corporate governance at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “This is the first change to car parking charges at SaTH in four years and we are still among the lowest in the country, with people able to park for up to 20 minutes without charge.

"The 20 minutes without charge is useful for people who could drop off and pick up patients without incurring any parking charges.

“Patients receiving dialysis, radiotherapy or chemotherapy and people visiting hospital for issues connected with bereavement are able to park for free.

"Anyone needing to attend hospital regularly can buy a discounted 10-visit ticket for £8. They should let the ward or department manager know so they can help organise this.

“Patients on low income, who are in receipt of benefits, can also claim back the cost of their parking by requesting a receipt when paying at the machine.

"They can then take their receipt with proof of benefit and proof of their appointment, such as an appointment letter or card, to the cashiers’ office, where they will be reimbursed.”

The changes will come into force on November 1.

Anger over move to increase parking charges

A decision to increase parking charges at the county’s two main hospitals has sparked anger.

The move at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford has been described as unfair and astonishing.

The cost of parking for up to 24 hours is to rise from £3.50 to £8 from November 1, with similar rises for shorter visits.

Currently visitors pay £2.50 for up to two hours, £3 for two to five hours and £3.50 for five to 24 hours.

The new changes will see visitors charged £3 for up to two hours, £4 for up to three hours, £5 for up to four hours, £6 for up to five hours and £8 for 24 hours.

Posting on the Shropshire Star’s Facebook page, Dave Edwards said: “It never ceases to amaze me that every time anyone increases parking charges, they do it for the better for the customer. How does that work when there are not enough parking spaces at the hospitals?”

Joy Kortbeek posted: “This is criminal – what if people cannot afford to pay that, half the time you can’t find a parking space so you drive in and spend 20 minutes looking for a space. You can’t afford to be ill now.”

And Carol Hughes said the increase was “very unfair on people visiting sick relatives”.

Graham Shepherd, part of the Shropshire Patient’s Group, said he was “astonished and annoyed” at the increase.

“If they put them up by 10 per cent that would account for inflation, but they’re putting them up by between 60 per cent and 100 per cent,” he said.

Hospital bosses have defended the rises saying the annual income the trust receives from car parking pays for the equivalent of 40 staff nurses.

Officials said they will continue to offer discounts for multiple visits and free parking for patients receiving dialysis, radiotherapy or chemotherapy and people visiting hospital for issues connected with bereavement.

Julia Clarke, director of corporate governance at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SATH), said: “This is the first change to car parking charges at SATH in four years and we are still among the lowest in the country, with people able to park for up to 20 minutes without charge.

“The 20 minutes without charge is useful for people who could drop off and pick up patients without incurring any parking charges.

“Patients receiving dialysis, radiotherapy or chemotherapy and people visiting hospital for issues connected with bereavement are able to park for free.

“Anyone needing to attend hospital regularly can buy a discounted 10-visit ticket for £8. They should let the ward or department manager know so they can help organise this.

“Patients on low income, who are in receipt of benefits, can also claim back the cost of their parking by requesting a receipt when paying at the machine.

“They can then take their receipt with proof of benefit and proof of their appointment, such as an appointment letter or card, to the cashiers’ office, where they will be reimbursed.”

Earlier this year it was revealed that visitors and staff have paid out more than £4 million to park at Shropshire’s main hospitals in the past three years.

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Chief reporter at the Shropshire Star covering north Shropshire based at the head office in Ketley.

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