Published: 00:09, 11 October 2018
| Updated: 10:35, 11 October 2018
Hospital patients will now have to fork out more money for parking following a “disgusting” decision to hike charges.
Despite already raking in more from parking than almost anywhere else in England, prices at east Kent’s hospitals have this week risen by 30p for the first hour of a stay.
The new rates mean visitors to the Kent & Canterbury, William Harvey and QEQM have to pay £2.30 for one hour, and then 20p for every additional 12 minutes.
VIDEO: Hospital increases car park prices
The price of the stay will then be frozen when the total reaches £10 - but prior to the increased charges, the capped price stood at £8.
The increases, which were last made in November 2015, have outraged campaigner Howard Cox, who is calling for the charges to be completely scrapped.
“I’m absolutely disgusted by it,” he said.
“It’s taxing the vulnerable - they are being ripped off. What is the justification for it? There is none.
“The increases are way, way above inflation rates, so it’s outrageous.”
The 15% hike comes after it was revealed earlier this year that hospitals in east Kent raked in more from parking than almost anywhere else in England.
Patients and visitors pumped more than £2.3 million into machines in 2016/17 and were slapped with a further £119,000 in fines.
FairFuel UK campaigner Mr Cox, who last month presented a petition to Downing Street calling for hospital parking charges to be abolished, wants to uncover where the money then goes.
But health chiefs say the revenues raised are being ploughed back into providing care.
An East Kent NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “All surplus income after running costs and car park maintenance is reinvested by the trust into NHS services.
“The barrier parking system, introduced in 2013, is recommended for hospitals to use as it means visitors are only charged for the exact amount of time they spend in the hospital.”
A two-hour stay in a hospital car park run by the Medway NHS Foundation Trust will cost £2, compared to £3.30 in Canterbury.
Discounted prices for frequent patients such as cancer and renal patients - who can buy weekly tickets - have not changed as part of the new tariffs. The first 20 minutes of any stay will remain free.
Pay and display car parks, of which there is one outside the Education Centre at the K&C, are not affected by the changes and neither are disabled bays.