Should out-patients and visitors be charged to park at hospitals?

Many hospitals around the UK charge out-patients and visitors an hourly fee to use their car park when attending appointments or visiting patients.

Visiting hospitals is not something anyone would choose to do.  Patients are vulnerable and quite often anxious and visitors can be distressed too.  Is it right that at a time like this you are charged to park your car, quite often at a premium rate?  In addition to this, the charge is usually on an hourly basis, and attending hospital can be unpredictable in terms of time required, so there is an additional stress factor imposed when pre-purchasing a parking ticket.

Many patients are admitted to hospital for a number of days or weeks, and family members can end up paying a large amount of money for parking over a long period to offer comfort and support to their loved ones during visiting hours. Is this morally wrong?

An investigation reported by the BBC showed hospitals were making increasing amounts of money from staff, patients and visitors – including those who are disabled – who used their car parks. It also found hospitals were giving millions of pounds to private firms to run their car parks for them, with some receiving money from parking fines. Others are tied into private finance initiative contracts, where all the money charged from car parks goes to companies under the terms of the scheme.

Do you have to pay to park in your local hospital when you attend appointments or visit a friend or relative? Are the parking charges at premium rates?  Is paying to park to visit a hospital morally wrong? Should these parking charges be abolished?

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