I have been calling on Southampton’s hospitals to reduce the amount they are charging patients, visitors and staff to park. With parking charges ranging from £2 an hour to £14 a day these charges are punishingly high.  The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has agreed that in many cases charges are just too high and recently announced plans for an overhaul of “unfair” hospital parking charges after admitting last month he had concerns about the fees being charged at some hospitals. 

Relatives of chronically ill patients will be given free or cheap hospital parking, while patients with disabilities, those with frequent appointments and hospital staff will also benefit. 

I am backing the campaign by Robert Halfon MP to make parking charges at our hospitals fairer on patients, visitors and staff. A quarter of hospitals in England, and almost all hospitals in Wales and Scotland already have free parking, with yet more charging reasonable amounts.

“When people go to hospital for treatment or to visit ill relatives the last thing they want to have to worry about is whether they can afford the parking ticket. Parking charges are simply too high. For Southampton I am suggesting a flat charge, of for example £2.50, regardless of how long someone stays; the hospital will then still receive funds for maintenance of the car parks and perhaps some extra to put back into patient care. I would expect any drop in revenue from car parking to be made up through better management and efficiency savings at the hospital not from patient care.

The current system punishes patients if treatments overrun or appointments are late, and puts people off visiting sick relatives and friends, which has a knock-on effect on patient mental wellbeing and recovery. It is simply not fair on patients, visitors or staff.

Supporting our most vulnerable, of whom those receiving NHS care are clearly a part, is fundamental to my political views and by reducing parking charges at hospitals we would be doing just that.”