Queen’s Speech: Hospital parking charges to be removed for those in greatest need

The recent Queen’s Speech confirmed that two NHS-based Bills are planned, the first on funding and the second will be to change the current system of hospital car parking charges, abolishing them for groups such as disabled people, those with children who are inpatients, and staff working night shifts.

This is the full wording from the speech…

“The Government will deliver its commitment to providing free hospital parking for those in greatest need. The Government will prioritise and carefully define those groups subject to a more detailed assessment of financial impact and those already identified in the NHS Car Parking Principles. This will include blue badge holders; frequent outpatient attendees; visitors with relatives who are gravely ill or have an extended stay in hospital, or carers of such where appropriate and; staff working shifts that mean public transport cannot be used.”

In 2015 the UK Government published guidance for NHS Trusts in England stating that concessions, including free or reduced parking charges or caps, should be available for groups such as:

  • disabled people
  • frequent outpatient attenders
  • visitors with relatives who are gravely ill, or carers of such people
  • visitors to relatives who have an extended stay in hospital, or carers of such people
  • carers of people in the above groups where appropriate
  • staff working shifts that mean public transport cannot be used

Other concessions, for example for volunteers or staff who car-share, should be considered locally.

The British Parking Association support this guidance because they have worked with NHS Trust and parking operator members and government to inform it, and will work with them again to ensure any new law is practical and workable. However, they do not believe all hospital car parking should be free.

Dave Smith of the BPA states “Providing, managing, patrolling and maintaining safe parking for car park users at healthcare facilities costs money and we believe that limited NHS funds should be focused on providing healthcare and patient services.

We will be focusing on working with government and the guidance on concessions and continue to monitor the resulting Bill.  We also have our upcoming Parking Forum in February on the topic of hospital parking and Parking News’ lead feature in February will be hospital parking too”.

Credit: Dave Smith, British Parking Association