Call to scrap rise in hospital parking fees is backed by Telford councillors
A call to scrap higher hospital parking fees in Telford and Shrewsbury – and for the government to fund the income shortfall – has been backed by councillors.
A motion led by Telford & Wrekin Councillor Arnold England was passed at a meeting of the full council on Thursday night.
Councillor England called on the council to put pressure on Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) to reverse the recent hike in parking charges.
The motion also called on the government to replace any lost income to avoid the trust's financial deficit worsening.
Councillor England, who is the cabinet member for communities, health and wellbeing, said the increase in car parking charges at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's Princess Royal Hospital had been "eye watering".
"I wish to highlight further how unjust and unfair these increases are and how the trust has flouted the Department of Health's guidance for setting such fees," he said.
"The trust argued that it hadn't increased car parking charges for four years, but even the lowest of these increases far exceeds four years of inflation."
He added: "The government must fund our NHS properly so that trusts don't need to resort to propping up their finances by charging for parking, or as we put it – a tax on visiting the sick."
Councillor Nigel Dugmore said he did not accept that the "huge" rise in parking charges was justified.
He said he agreed that the price increase needed to be reversed but not that the government should step in.
Councillor Dugmore added: "I do not think the government should be paying extra just for those that drive."
Council leader Shaun Davies agreed with the motion, saying it was "unacceptable" that it is cheaper to park at Telford Shopping Centre than at either hospital.
The new charges, which came into force in November, have seen increases across the board, with up to 24 hours of parking at Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal Hospitals now costing £8 – more than double the £3.50 it cost previously.
It comes after Telford & Wrekin Council wrote to the trust over ‘unjustifiable increases’ in parking charges.
Previously, visitors paid £2.50 for up to two hours, £3 for two to five hours and £3.50 for five to 24 hours.
The current charges are now £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.
Bosses at SaTH said it was the first change to car parking charges in four years and the trust was still among the lowest in the country, with people able to park for up to 20 minutes without charge.
Last 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.