Harrogate District NHS Foundation Trust has hit back at criticism over the parking charges it enforces at its hospital site in the town.
NHS Trusts across the country have come under fire for charging visitors to park at hospital sites in recent weeks, with Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn promising that he would abolish the charges if elected into power.
But Robert Harrison, Chief Operating Officer at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, explained that the charges help to protect money used for patient care.
He said: “Money raised through car parking charges goes towards security and maintaining and improving our car parks. Without charging, money which would normally be spent on direct patient care would have to be used.
“The reality is the cost of providing and maintaining car parking at Harrogate District Hospital is rising year on year. This is something we manage in-house.
“That said, the only price increase in the past two years has been a modest 10p increase on some hourly pay bands, in July 2017. Other hourly bands saw no price increase, and haven’t increased since July 2016.
“We appreciate that some people need to make multiple and/or regular trips to hospital. Therefore, we have a number of initiatives in place to assist them. All patients, if clinics overrun, are entitled to concessionary parking.
“Patients and visitors who are identified as having a disability and are in receipt of a blue badge are entitled to free parking when visiting Harrogate District Hospital.
“A weekly ticket is available allowing unrestricted lengths of stay and visits for a period of seven days. The purchase of two consecutive weekly tickets will allow a further two weeks’ parking free of charge.
“Patients receiving treatment at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre receive free car parking.
“Visitors attending Harrogate District Hospital on a very regular basis, and for an extended period, may be given assistance with the cost of car parking at the discretion of ward sisters.
“Finally, the Trust is actively working on initiatives to encourage patients, staff and visitors to consider alternatives to car travel through its Active Travel Plan.
“The Plan is a package of actions designed to encourage safe, healthy and sustainable travel options.
All car parking charges are available on the Trust’s website