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Car 'tax on the sick' at Welsh hospitals

BMA calls for parking charges to be scrapped

OnMedica Staff

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The BMA has called on the Welsh Assembly government to scrap hospital parking charges after it was revealed NHS trusts in Wales make nearly £4m a year from the fees.

Figures released by the Welsh Assembly Government show that the total income trusts in Wales received from charging patients and visitors to park in 2006/2007 was £3.9m plus £1.5 for charging staff. Swansea NHS Trust made the most  - £1m.

BMA Welsh Secretary, Dr Richard Lewis said: “Charging people to park at hospitals is an indirect tax on healthcare.

“These days, the vast majority of people who attend hospital clinics do so by car. Often, these people have to attend several times during treatment and the costs mount up. It's iniquitous that they have to pay to access hospital care.

"Public transport is often inconvenient and troublesome to patients with mobility problems. Patients and visitors will be shocked to learn that NHS trusts are making thousands of pounds a year, without any significant benefits.”

Dr Lewis added that the last thing anyone attending hospital wanted to be worrying about was whether they had enough money for the meter.

“Welsh hospital car parking charges are a tax on the sickest patients and their relatives. The most ill section of the population has to visit hospital more frequently than those who are healthier and it is often these very ill people who, because of their illness, are the least able to pay the substantial car parking charges.

Wales should stop this tax on the sick.”

In December the Scottish government announced it would put a £3 cap on the daily cost of hospital parking.

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