Pressure on to cut hospital parking charges

Parking charges at Hereford County Hospital are amongst the highest in the country

Parking charges at Hereford County Hospital are amongst the highest in the country

First published in News Hereford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

PRESSURE is mounting to cut parking charges slammed as a "sick tax" at Hereford County Hospital.

The biggest barrier will be persuading the company managing the car parks to take less profit.

But the hospital's Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract partners have been warned of "political implications" if they don't reduce the fees.

Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, said the charges - among the highest in the country - should be re-assessed in the light of new government guidelines announced this week.

Healthwatch Herefordshire also wants fresh talks over the cost of parking and how it could be made more affordable.

Public anger has also been expressed in a petition against the charges which topped more than 2,000 signatures last month.

This week’s guideline announcement has set new ground rules to regulate hospital parking charges and make the actions of private parking firms the responsibility of hospital trusts.

At Hereford County Hospital, parking fees are managed by the PFI partners and offer little financial benefit to the hospital itself.

Using the hospital car park currently costs £3.50 for the first hour, rising to £5 for two hours, £6 for three hours, £7 for up to four hours, £12 for nine hours and £15 for 24 hours.

These figures are due to rise again before 2016 under the current contract.

Mr Norman said the guidelines meant the ‘partners’ must be more mindful of growing public concern over existing charges, let alone any increase.

“If the new guidelines are not drawn into negotiations over parking then I am prepared to go further than I have done so far over this issue – there will be political implications,” he said.

Mr Norman has previously put Hereford’s hospital parking as a case study to parliament to emphasise the importance of regulating how much the public had to pay.

He met recently with new Wye Valley NHS Trust chief executive Richard Beeken, stressing the need to stave off another price hike.

Healthwatch chairman Paul Deneen said the guidelines were a chance to end a “sick tax" in the county.

“The PFI partners need more pressure to reduce the charges, the guidelines establish a principle by which negotiations could, and should, be conducted,” he said.

Cash-strapped WVT has ruled out a return to offsetting parking costs after it spent £300,000 on subsidies between 2008 and 2011.

The trust board has agreed, instead, to encourage more use of concessions.

Under the 30-year PFI deal that enabled the hospital to be built in 2002, management of the car park is sub-contracted over a 10-year term – signed off in 2006 – to Car Parking Plus on behalf of Mercia Healthcare, WVT’s contract partner.

The hospital is owned and managed through Mercia, which is a company 75% owned by Semperian, a London-based PFI firm, and 25% owned by French industrial giant Sodexo.

Comments (8)

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5:33pm Thu 28 Aug 14

LR3661 says...

I have had to attend Hereford hospital three times very recently. Waiting times in the clinics have been well over an hour each time, meaning you have to pay for two hours. This week it was a wait of three and a half hours, not including the 'please arrive 15 minutes early', required by the hospital. A refund is available over two hours if the clinic overruns, but you have to ask for a form to be signed while still in the clinic (not obvious). Charges are much cheaper at the new Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham. A pity the petition was not on display in the Oxford Suite!
I have had to attend Hereford hospital three times very recently. Waiting times in the clinics have been well over an hour each time, meaning you have to pay for two hours. This week it was a wait of three and a half hours, not including the 'please arrive 15 minutes early', required by the hospital. A refund is available over two hours if the clinic overruns, but you have to ask for a form to be signed while still in the clinic (not obvious). Charges are much cheaper at the new Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham. A pity the petition was not on display in the Oxford Suite! LR3661
  • Score: 7

10:22pm Thu 28 Aug 14

Brownface60 says...

The cost per hour is certainly excessive. But we do need to accept that very cheap - or even free - parking will lead to the spaces being used by shoppers or town centre workers, leaving few spaces for genuine visitors and patients. The present system does need to change, but it has to avoid this abuse. At the same time there should not be an undue burden on genuine users - especially those who have to go to clinics regularly, or need to visit patients frequently, or have to attend A&E for long periods. Yes, many people could use public transport to get to the hospital, but many others have to come from outside the city, or use the hospital after the buses stop running. Come on you highly paid managers - get a system which benefits patients and visitors while preventing abuse.
The cost per hour is certainly excessive. But we do need to accept that very cheap - or even free - parking will lead to the spaces being used by shoppers or town centre workers, leaving few spaces for genuine visitors and patients. The present system does need to change, but it has to avoid this abuse. At the same time there should not be an undue burden on genuine users - especially those who have to go to clinics regularly, or need to visit patients frequently, or have to attend A&E for long periods. Yes, many people could use public transport to get to the hospital, but many others have to come from outside the city, or use the hospital after the buses stop running. Come on you highly paid managers - get a system which benefits patients and visitors while preventing abuse. Brownface60
  • Score: 8

7:02am Fri 29 Aug 14

ginge1280 says...

Hereford county hospital is a rip off for parking charges. I travelled to Oswestry yesterday for an appointment at there hospital. £2 charge for a full days parking.
Hereford county hospital is a rip off for parking charges. I travelled to Oswestry yesterday for an appointment at there hospital. £2 charge for a full days parking. ginge1280
  • Score: 3

8:09am Fri 29 Aug 14

mlevans says...

Cheltenham hospital is cheaper so is Bromsgrove
Cheltenham hospital is cheaper so is Bromsgrove mlevans
  • Score: 1

11:19am Fri 29 Aug 14

mizza21 says...

Well done Jesse Norman.
Championing local people again.

There isn't an election on the horizon is there?
Well done Jesse Norman. Championing local people again. There isn't an election on the horizon is there? mizza21
  • Score: -2

5:41pm Fri 29 Aug 14

Brownface60 says...

mizza21 wrote:
Well done Jesse Norman.
Championing local people again.

There isn't an election on the horizon is there?
Or is he just doing what he was elected for? (not by me, by the way)
[quote][p][bold]mizza21[/bold] wrote: Well done Jesse Norman. Championing local people again. There isn't an election on the horizon is there?[/p][/quote]Or is he just doing what he was elected for? (not by me, by the way) Brownface60
  • Score: 5

3:14pm Mon 1 Sep 14

AnEyeForDetail says...

Vote with your feet, there are alternatives:
Bus Station HR1 2BL
Up to 1 hour £1
Up to 2 hours £1.70
Up to 3 hours £2.70
Up to 4 hours £3.70
Over 4 hours £4.70

Kyrle Street, Hereford HR1 2ET - 200m away from the Hospital
£1.20 / 1 hour
£2.40 / 2 hours
£3.50 / 3 hours
£4.50 / 4 hours
£5.50 / 5 hours
£8.00 / 10 hours
£1.00 / overnight
Vote with your feet, there are alternatives: Bus Station HR1 2BL Up to 1 hour £1 Up to 2 hours £1.70 Up to 3 hours £2.70 Up to 4 hours £3.70 Over 4 hours £4.70 Kyrle Street, Hereford HR1 2ET - 200m away from the Hospital £1.20 / 1 hour £2.40 / 2 hours £3.50 / 3 hours £4.50 / 4 hours £5.50 / 5 hours £8.00 / 10 hours £1.00 / overnight AnEyeForDetail
  • Score: 0

5:04pm Thu 4 Sep 14

pjtrubble says...

AnEyeForDetail wrote:
Vote with your feet, there are alternatives:
Bus Station HR1 2BL
Up to 1 hour £1
Up to 2 hours £1.70
Up to 3 hours £2.70
Up to 4 hours £3.70
Over 4 hours £4.70

Kyrle Street, Hereford HR1 2ET - 200m away from the Hospital
£1.20 / 1 hour
£2.40 / 2 hours
£3.50 / 3 hours
£4.50 / 4 hours
£5.50 / 5 hours
£8.00 / 10 hours
£1.00 / overnight
Its all very well quoting these cheaper options but when you have to transport an elderly disabled person those alternatives are not an option .If that person were wishing to visit there loved ones everyday fo a couple of hours that is a huge chunck of their pension gone up the swanee into some none deserving persons pocket.
[quote][p][bold]AnEyeForDetail[/bold] wrote: Vote with your feet, there are alternatives: Bus Station HR1 2BL Up to 1 hour £1 Up to 2 hours £1.70 Up to 3 hours £2.70 Up to 4 hours £3.70 Over 4 hours £4.70 Kyrle Street, Hereford HR1 2ET - 200m away from the Hospital £1.20 / 1 hour £2.40 / 2 hours £3.50 / 3 hours £4.50 / 4 hours £5.50 / 5 hours £8.00 / 10 hours £1.00 / overnight[/p][/quote]Its all very well quoting these cheaper options but when you have to transport an elderly disabled person those alternatives are not an option .If that person were wishing to visit there loved ones everyday fo a couple of hours that is a huge chunck of their pension gone up the swanee into some none deserving persons pocket. pjtrubble
  • Score: 0

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