MP raps hospital parking fees hike

By Ted JeoryAN MP has criticised a health trust after parking charges at its hospitals were increased by up to 50%.Bob Russell, the Colchester MP, branded the rises at the town's general and Essex County hospitals “exorbitant” and demanded to know how much profit was being made out of patients and visitors.

By Ted Jeory

AN MP has criticised a health trust after parking charges at its hospitals were increased by up to 50%.

Bob Russell, the Colchester MP, branded the rises at the town's general and Essex County hospitals “exorbitant” and demanded to know how much profit was being made out of patients and visitors.

His criticism came after Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust announced pay-and-display parking fees at its two Colchester hospitals would go up for the first time in 13 months.


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From July 5, the cost of a one-hour stay will rise from £1 to £1.50, while parking for two hours will also increase by 50p to £2.

A stay of up to four hours will rise by £1 to £3 and an eight-hour visit will cost £5 - a 25% increase on the previous charge of £4. However, the tariff for 24 hours will remain pegged at £10.

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The trust has also decided to put up the cost of five-day and seven-day passes for visitors of long-stay patients to £10 (previously £7) and £12 (£8) respectively.

First Management Group - part of the APCOA Group, which runs car parks for airports and hospitals across Europe - has the contract for the operational management of the trust's hospital car parks.

Mr Russell said yesterday: “I've asked on many occasions what the trust pays to this company and what profits this company makes.

“These new exorbitant prices just add to the stress that patients and their visitors have to endure when they come to hospital.

“The car parks were paid for using public capital and now much of this revenue is going to the private sector.

“I just do not understand why the hospital cannot charge lower prices and keep all the revenue for itself for patient care.”

Elizabeth Stalley, head of facilities at Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, said the prices were being increased in line with those charged by Colchester Borough Council at its car parks and to deter commuters using limited hospital parking space.

“The trust appreciates that at certain times of the day it is difficult to find empty parking spaces at its hospitals, but this problem would be exacerbated if our charges were below those charged by the council,” she added.

“Rail commuters would end up parking at Colchester General Hospital and shoppers at Essex County Hospital, leaving fewer spaces for patients and their visitors.”

She urged patients and visitors to consider using public transport for their trips to and from hospitals where possible.

However, the trust and First Management Group declined to comment on their commercial arrangements for reasons of “confidentiality”.

A spokesman for Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust added money generated by the pay-and-display car parks was used to fund its security and car parking services, with any surplus invested in patient care.

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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