Hospital car park charges rise

CAR park charges in local hospitals are to rise by 50p a visit.

The West Herts Hospitals Trust, which runs St Albans City, Watford General and Hemel Hempstead Hospitals, has put the increase down to the increasing costs of providing and managing the car parks.

The trust points out that the increase on Monday, June 14, will be the first in three years and will put up the charge to �3.50 for up to three hours and �5 for three to five hours.

The all-day charge has been reduced from �12 to �10 in recognition that some patients have no choice other than to spend a day at hospital.

Staff will also have to pay more – an increase of 6p per day for those on the lowest salary scale to around 50p a day for those on the highest.

Jan Filochowski, chief executive of the trust, said: “This was a very difficult decision to make and was not one we took lightly but we do have a responsibility to cover our costs and make sure that money intended to look after patients is not subsidising the car park.

“We have never made a profit from car parking and these new charges are simply to cover our increased costs.”

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Free and reduced car parking rates for patients and visitors who need to attend frequently or who are visiting specialist units or young children will continue to be available. Information is available throughout all the hospitals and on the website

There are also 30-minute drop-off parking spaces and free car parking for disabled blue badge holders as well as a regular inter-site bus service to provide free access for patients, staff and visitors.

St Albans MP Anne Main, who supports car parking charges if it means that money is not diverted away from patient care, said: “I am given to understand that the current car parking provision makes a loss because land has to be rented to provide parking facilities and a parking scheme has to be administered.

“Obviously in these dire financial times, it is inevitable that parking charges will remain and must reflect the cost of the facility.

“However, I was pleased that Mr Filochowski did say that there would be significant concessions for groups of people such as those receiving renal dialysis and visiting intensive care and neo-natal facilities.”

Mrs Main pointed out that it was a tough decision but had to be taken to protect spending on front line services.