St Thomas’ Hospital charges patients and visitors more to park on average than any hospital in the country, new figures show.
The highest average charge for patients/visitors is £3.20 per hour at St Thomas’, according to NHS Estates Return Information Collection data.
The figures also show King’s College Hospital charges patients/visitors £2.33 per hour on average.
A spokesperson for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust said the charges were in line with local parking facilities to prevent its car parks from being misused by the public. “To ensure our car parking spaces remain available for our patients and are not misused by members of the public visiting central London, the cost of parking at St Thomas’ Hospital is in line with local parking facilities,” said the spokesperson.
“We offer a discounted rate of £5 per day or £25 for seven days in certain cases. This could include when someone visits one of our long-term patients on a daily basis.
“Disabled badge holders attending an appointment with their appointment letter and their valid disabled badge on the day are offered free parking.”
The figures also revealed that three out of ten hospitals charge staff for parking. St Thomas’ is shown to charge staff £0.25 per hour on average, and King’s to charge £0.29.
The highest average charge for staff is £2 per hour at both Edgware Community Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital, figures show. Based on the official figures, this suggests that the cost of parking for a 40-hour working week would be £80.
However NHS Property Services, which manages the Edgware Community Hospital car park, questioned the official data after it was published, saying staff could park for free in the staff car park, and that there was a separate pay and display car park for visitors charging £2 for the first hour on a scale up to £6 for eight hours. Department of Health guidance is for NHS organisations to ensure staff can reach sites “as safely, conveniently and economically as possible”.
Steve Gooding, director of RAC Foundation, which analyses the data, said: “Few parking issues are as incendiary as charging people to leave vehicles at hospitals, be they patients, visitors or staff.
“Many hospitals are on built-up locations, on constrained sites, so some sort of control is inevitable, but this needs to be proportionate and stress free.
“Government guidance encourages hospitals to use pay-on-exit systems. This would at least mean the anxiety associated with a hospital visit is not compounded by paying up front and having to predict to the second how long a visit will last.”