Which? Campaign to Heal Sick NHS Parking


The NHS may be free at the point of delivery for patients, however for visitors to hospital car parks all over the country it is anything but. Which? is calling on the Government to cure this creeping disease with a dose of regulation and targets.

Which? asked a thousand and one drivers who had used an NHS hospital car park within the previous two years how they felt about their treatment at the hands of the Hospital Trusts and management. The results describe a system more often than not, ‘not fit for purpose’. In fact hospital car parks are enough to make you sick.

The symptoms: Over priced, over crowded and in need of overhaul because it is too often difficult to pay for your stay. Seven out of ten people asked, felt they had been charged too much for the parking place near to the hospital they were visiting. More than half of the people asked reported having some difficulty in finding a space while one in three said they had to queue. One in three drivers also said they had difficulties when it came to paying with problems such as having the right change or locating a machine that worked.

The silver lining: Not for the customers unfortunately but the hospitals actually made considerable profit from their car park facilities. Which? discovered under the freedom of information act that some Trusts made more than a million pounds each year.

The diagnosis: Hospital trusts are greedy and inefficient when it comes to dealing with visitors to their premises. They are, by and large, providing a poor service for too high a price. They are neglecting this important aspect of their responsibilities.

The prescription: It is the Governments’ responsibility to remedy the ills of the hospital parking scandal. A simple target to aim at, such as enough parking places at every hospital to meet peak demand could be one way forward. Other simple guidelines on fair parking rates would be another useful prescription. There is probably no need to include it in the ‘Patients Charter’. Certainly it is not beyond the wit of hospital management to use some of the revenue from parking to install more and better payment facilities.

The prognosis: Watch this space and join the Which? campaign for better hospital parking. Visit the Which? website and share your experiences and ideas in this area.


Leave a Comment

5 comments… add one

  • Paul 29 September, 12:17 pm

    Hospital car parking charges have spiralled out of control. It’s bad enough charging visitors when they’re going to see somebody who is sick, but charging patients to park there when they’re actually ill? Ridiculous.

    Thankfully, the hospital I use has residential streets within walking distance, because I refuse to pay £5 when I’m only there for a 10-minute appointment. Of course I expect the people who live there probably don’t appreciate it all that much.

    Split free patient and charged visitor parking would make sense for a start, since most of us don’t go to hospital for fun. Parking validation would be simple enough to add at reception.

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  • Sue 22 January, 3:08 pm

    Two of my family have long term chronic health problems requiring regular visits to a hospital with terrible parking issues.
    There are NEVER any available spaces as patients must share the car park with staff.
    I often have to park a long way from the hospital entrance despite transporting sick patients with profound mobilty issues.
    If we miss appointments, obviously we have to wait, sometimes months, for new ones.

    I ALWAYS refuse to pay for hospital parking when I am driving patients to hospital and if challenged for not paying, I show my sons or husbands blue badges and threaten to call the local newspaper.
    I have never had any retaliation from the hospital trust so far, leading me to question whether or not hospitals can actually enforce their parking fees if you do complain?

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  • Ian 5 February, 8:32 pm

    I work for the NHS, and our ‘parking sites’ within the hospital are actually controlled by the local council, therefore i would pressume it is the local council who reap the profits while the hospital settles for a set figure each month, effectivly sub letting the carpark. People who park without a ticket may attract a £75 fine which also goes to the council. The council also manage the staff car parking, which again, goes to the council. This costs around £35 per month, per car. If you dont have a monthly subscription, its £1.50 per day, or £7.50 per week. Going by a month of 4 weeks, this is £30. Multiply this by say 500 staff… thats £15000 per month or 180’000 per year. From a staff members point of view, add this levy on top of the actual cost of getting to work for the staff and your looking at about £80 / month (parking/fuel/insurance/road tax), just so your average joe (or jane) NHS worker can be there when you need them.

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  • Kyly 14 November, 5:33 pm

    In Coventry, the PFI hospital car park is run by private contractors who have made millions over the last couple of years. The sickest thing is, none of the money made goes towards care – all to profits. The staff have to pay to park there too, and given the amount that they have to pay, for some staff this has amounted to a pay cut. There has been a prominent local campaign including months of canvassing for petition signatures and a sit-in when it came to handing the petition in. However, despite the NHS Trust’s promise to ‘review’ the arrangements when the contract ended, the company in question was quietly handed a contract extension with no further public consultation.

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  • SMG 17 August, 8:10 am

    My elderly parents expected to be at the hospital for 2 hours, but they were there for 4 hours due to the clinic delays. They paid for 4 hours but were parked for 4 hours and 6 minutes and subsequently received a threatening letter from the private parking company requesting immediate payment otherwise the fine would increase to 70.00. Thankfully, I managed to get this waived. This made them extremely anxious and caused a great deal of upset. This begs the question….are hospital trusts parking companies making a profit from older, unwell people and are hospital trusts indirectly causing people to suffer further illness due to these punitive parking measures?

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