Hospital criticised over parkingGreat Western Hospital parking fees under fire

16 February 2006

A hospital highlighted by Which? for its parking charges has earned GBP 1.2 million from such fees since it opened three years ago.

The Great Western Hospital in Swindon - which charges GBP 35 a day for parking - disclosed the income figure following a request from the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act.

The hospital has said that, although the revenue figure was high, there were running costs associated with car parking and any surplus left at the end of the year was ploughed back into the running of the hospital - 'anything from linen to patient services'.

In our January issue we described how one Which? reader spent more than GBP 100 visiting his dying father at the hospital over an eight-week period.

Concessions

The hospital told us its charges were in line with those of the local council and that there were concessions for some patients and visitors.

Which? has given evidence to a Health Select Committee which is investigating such charges within the NHS. We told the committee that hospital car park charges should only cover costs.

We also told the MPs that the costs of travel, including parking charges, are becoming an increasingly important additional financial burden for patients that can seriously affect access to care.

Problems are particularly acute for patients on a low income, and for those who require a long course of treatment such as physiotherapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.