Scotland caps hospital parking chargesMaximum charge will be £3 a day

02 January 2008

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to cap charges at hospital car parks.

A maximum charge of £3 a day will be introduced this month, although the cap will not apply at private finance initiative (PFI) hospitals until the summer.

The decision, taken by the Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, was made following an independent review by a group of experts.

Last resort

The panel recommended that charges should be introduced only as a last resort.

Tom Waterson, of health union Unison, said: ‘We will be urging the government to bring all PFI hospitals under the same controls as soon as possible.

‘Private companies should not be profiteering from staff going to work and relatives visiting patients.’

Profits

In 2006, the UK Health Select Committee recommended that regular hospital patients and visitors should receive free or cheaper parking, but the proposal was rejected by the government.

Which? has long highlighted the problem of high parking charges at UK hospitals and believes that charges should only cover costs, not generate profits. 

One Which? reader spent £100 on hospital car park charges as he visited his father during the final weeks of his life. 

Parking costs

Macmillan Cancer Support has estimated that the average cancer patient spends £325 on travel and parking costs during the course of their treatment.

Which? health policy adviser Frances Blunden said:'Which? welcomes the cap on parking charges in Scotland as these can be a significant burden, particularly for people who are having to make regular trips to hospital either for treatment or to visit friends or family who are inpatients. 

'Where these have not been capped, we suggest hospitals should be listening to their patients to find out if this is a problem and acting on this information. Which?'s Impatient for Change campaign is calling for hospitals to seek out patients' views of their care and take action to deal with any problems raised.'