A cancer charity has slammed the NHS Confederation’s position on hospital car parking fees as “morally wrong”.

In a report published today, the confederation says it is fair for hospitals to charge fees for the use of their car parks and reinvest any profit from those fees in NHS services.

Report author and confederation senior policy manager Joe Farrington-Douglas said: “Hospitals need to balance the demand for free parking with ensuring access for those patients and visitors who really need to drive, reducing carbon emissions and funding the costs of running car-parks.“

By 2005-06 NHS hospital income from car parking fees rose to £98m. The confederation’s report sets out five “top principles” for hospital trusts to base their parking policies and fees on:

  • Have a travel plan for users of all types of transport;
  • Control parking fairly – such as by giving concessions to people whose health conditions or work commitments mean they have to park frequently or during anti-social hours;
  • Show car park and transport costs and how charges are invested;
  • Think about the environment and how transport can reduce the NHS’s impact;
  • Be open and involve patients and the public.

But Macmillan Cancer Support charity’s head of policy Mike Hobday said: “You cannot have a ‘fair’ parking policy when it is morally wrong to force cancer patients in England to pay to park at hospital while they have their treatment. This report puts the rights of hospital managers to be independent above the rights of patients to receive their healthcare free.”

He said that “many hospitals” had still not implemented guidance issued over two years ago on offering free or reduced parking to patients needing to attend hospital regularly.