A third cheaper to park in council car parks than at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Thelma Walker raised the issue that patients and staff feel like “Cash Cows” for the Calderdale Huddersfield Foundation Trust (CHFT) in a speech calling for free hospital car parking.
Speaking in a Backbench Business Committee Debate, on hospital car parking charges, Thelma spoke out about the extortionate costs that patients and staff face when parking at a CHFT site.
The debate, which was brought forward by a cross-party group of MPs, aimed to highlight the costs facing those who use hospital car parks. The debate also highlighted the wider issue charges can have on the surrounding area, as some people choose to park in residential areas to avoid the costs.
Thelma raised the fact that it is a third cheaper to park in a Kirklees Council car park, than at a NHS Trust site, saying “Is this not NHS Trusts profiteering from the sick and vulnerable?”. To park in the Market Hall in Huddersfield it is 90p per hour and Huddersfield coach station charges £4 for a full day. To park at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, however, it sets patients and staff back £2.80 for up to a 2-hour stay and over £7 for more than 6 hours.
Whilst CHFT do meet national guidelines by ensuring that certain groups of people are exempt from the charges, many are forced to pay them, including Blue Badge holders and staff.
In the 2017 Labour Manifesto, the party said “Labour will fund free parking in NHS England – for patients, staff and visitors – by increasing the tax on private medical insurance premiums”
Thelma said “At the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, a 2 1/2 hour stay, 3 times a week, 52 weeks a year will cost you £780! How does anyone think it’s right that these hardworking professionals are paying nearly £2000 a year to treat people. I can tell you, it isn’t”
Speaking after the debate, Thelma added “The debate today shows Parliament at its best. MPs working across party-lines, putting constituents first to try and make their lives better. Whilst I understand that the £2.7 million that the Trust received through car parking charges in 2016/17 plugs the gap in the funding from central Government, it is not right that patients and staff are being forced to pay over-the-odds car parking charges.”