Hospital parking charges set to rise

VISITORS and staff at cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital face increased parking charges and tougher enforcement under new proposals, it has emerged.The hospital is considering employing a private enforcement company to manage car parking arrangements on site for both staff and patients, which is likely to see fines of £40 (rising to £80 if not paid within 21 days) imposed for non payment.

By Danielle Nuttall

VISITORS and staff at cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital face increased parking charges and tougher enforcement under new proposals, it has emerged.

The hospital is considering employing a private enforcement company to manage car parking arrangements on site for both staff and patients, which is likely to see fines of £40 (rising to £80 if not paid within 21 days) imposed for non payment.

It has also outlined proposals to put up car parking charges - for the first time since December 2002 - with increases ranging from 10p up to £2.


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The proposals were outlined yesterdayat a meeting of Ipswich Hospital's NHS Trust Board.

During the meeting, health bosses revealed the hospital's current financial position, which saw it end June with a deficit of £6.2million.

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The hospital has to identify £25m of savings if it is to claw back from debt - £7m of which has been found so far.

The new car park proposals will see visitor charges increase from 50p to 60p for up to 30 minutes, from £1 to £1.20 for up to one hour, from £3 to £3.50 for up to three hours and from £10 to £12 for stays longer than six hours.

As part of the plans, health bosses will re-designate 50 staff car parking spaces as public parking while staff cark park charges will be set at £15 per month.

Bosses hope to implement all of the measures by September, however a small sub group of board members is set to meet in a fortnight to discuss the idea of employing an enforcement agency in more detail.

Steve Harrup, director of estate and facilities at the hospital, said a visit had already been made to another trust where an enforcement agency had been employed.

“A situation has developed where some people are not paying to come to the site - both staff and visitors. Is that equally fair to those people who do pay?” he said.

“Enforcement companies that actually implement these systems do not actually make a charge to the trust at all. Their fees are by way of their enforcement.

“What would delight me is if they never claim a fee. We have tried to develop a balanced approach to it. This will not be particularly popular with staff or the public.”

Andrew Reed, chief executive of the trust, said the trust was walking into the car park debate with its “eyes open”.

“There is no doubt an issue like this will be uncomfortable,” he said.

“We have not increased car parking charges since December 2002. It's long time to hold down current levels. We have done well in doing that.

“If we are going to do this we have to have some form of enforcement. Some of the enforcement on site is absolutely hopeless.

He added: “Some people are very conscientious and other people will get away Scot-free and I don't think that's right.”

But Richard Eaton, non-executive board director, said private companies were notoriously aggressive.

“That will cause all sorts of problems for patients who are a few minutes late. It will also take money away from the hospital,” he said.

“We do have to anticipate the strength of feeling of patients by imposing increases in parking and before we move to consider a private parking scheme. Clearly they are going to be doing it for profit.”

Bryan Moore-Smith, Public Patient Involvement forum member, added that “clemency” should be given to people who are already stressed when they arrived to park at the hospital.

Last night Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer said a private company would carry out car parking enforcement much better than a hospital could.

But he added: “The hospital will have to set the rules so it doesn't harm patients.”

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