Hospital parking fees placed in spotlight

Wigan Infirmary car park

Wigan Infirmary car park

Analysis of hospital parking charges across the country has revealed Wigan patients are left less out of pocket than counterparts in other areas.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh compares favourably to several Trusts in the North West.

People on low incomes cannot afford some of the exorbitant charges at these trusts

Katherine Murphy

And it provides concessions for cancer patients, something that has attracted criticism from patient groups for Trusts that do not.

Data obtained from health organisations in England show a third have increased tariffs in the last year with some now charging as much as £4 for a one-hour stay.

WWL is one of few to allow visitors to park for free for the first 30 minutes before charges kick in. The borough’s Trust brought made changes to its parking tariffs in November 2015, meaning a one-hour stay at Wrightington Hospital and Thomas Linacre Centre costs £1.50.

A spokesman said there are no plans to change the tariffs over the next 12 months.

For all other facilities, including Wigan Infirmary, the cheapest tariff is £2.50 for a two-hour stay, increasing to £4.50 for two to four hours and £6 for more than four hours.

Among the most expensive hospitals include nearby Warrington (£3 for one hour) and Stockport (£3.50).

The results of the analysis, by the Press Association, have sparked criticism from cancer support groups defending patients who have to make frequent visits.

WWL operates what it refers to as “sympathetic concessions” for Oncology patients and those visiting in-patients in hospital for more than two weeks.

Laura Keely, campaigns manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Cancer patients often need to make frequent trips to hospital. They should not be left out of pocket in order to receive life-saving treatment.

“Public transport is not always an option as cancer patients can have an increased risk of infection because treatment has compromised their immune system.

“Treatments can also leave patients feeling tired, sick and weak, so they have little choice but to travel by car.”

As part of its Patients First scheme, WWL bosses have previously stated their charges “aim to be as fair and equitable as possible for all car park users.”

They added: “Income from car parking charges is used to cover the cost of providing parking and running costs including maintenance.”

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “People on low incomes cannot afford some of the exorbitant charges at these trusts.

“There is no national policy and all these trusts are doing what they like.”