Sunday, March 23, 2008

Car parking at hospitals - should it be free?

Recently car parking charges at Welsh hospitals have been abolished, leading to a row between the UK and Welsh Health Ministers.

UK Health Minister Ben Bradshaw believes that it doesn't make sense to "subsidise" car parks when the money could be spent on patient healthcare, although this was countered by Welsh Health Minister Edwina Hart saying

"The statement actually sounds like sour grapes from the Department of Health because they've been probably having a lot of flak because they haven't looked at these issues themselves."
Elsewhere across the UK hospital parking charges vary greatly:
  • England - parking can cost up to £4 per hour
  • Scotland - a £3 a day cap on parking
  • Northern Ireland - similar to England in that local health managers decide on the fees

So what do you think? Are hospital parking fees simply just an underhand way to charge for hospital visits or instead of subsidising hospital car parks should the money be spent on patient care?