King’s Lynn hospital defends £1.1 million parking charge haul

Alan Hall says car parking charges at hospitals should be scrapped
Alan Hall says car parking charges at hospitals should be scrapped
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Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) made more than £1.1 million from car parking charges during the last financial year, it was revealed yesterday.

The figure emerged after a report showed hospitals in England had generated at least £120 million from their car parks over the same period.

Senior QEH managers have defended the amount, insisting the money is reinvested back into services.

But campaigner Alan Hall, from Heacham, says he will not pay the charges, even going as far as to wait in a supermarket car park while his wife is treated.

Mr Hall who campaigned against the introduction of a flat £2 rate for blue badge users earlier this year, says patients should not be charged at all.

He said: “I think it’s wrong that people who are sick or disabled and have to go on a regular basis have to pay.

“My wife has to go two or three times a week. I now drop her off and go and sit in Asda’s car park for an hour and go back to pick her up. Those two pounds add up. The hospitals shouldn’t be charging.”

The QEH took a total of £1,156,305 from parking during the 2015-16 financial year, around £100,000 more than the James Paget hospital in Gorleston.

The figure was revealed after a Press Association report showed 89 hospital trusts who responded to their query, which did not include the QEH, had made more than £120 million from the charges over the same period.

QEH deputy chief executive Charles Bruce said: “Money from parking is reinvested back into the hospital to help ensure we are able to enhance excellent facilities for our patients.

“In the last year, we have carried out new road markings, installed new solar powered pedestrian crossings, created more car park spaces around the hospital and we are looking at redesigning the road system in front of the main entrance to enhance the patient experience.”

But Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients’ Association, said patients were being asked to bear far too high a burden.

She said: “The NHS is clearly underfunded, but the onus on meeting the funding crisis should most certainly not be shouldered by the sick, injured and vulnerable.

“We are not talking about insignificant amounts of money, either. It is alarming that trusts think it is okay to charge people so much money for visiting a hospital, as it makes patients question the values of the people leading the organisation.

“We take a very clear line that car parking fees need to be scrapped or strictly capped.”