Eight out of 10 want hospital parking charges abolished for seriously ill

PUBLISHED: 07:07 28 December 2009 | UPDATED: 00:43 16 June 2010

To mark the first anniversary of free hospital parking in Scotland (31 December) this week, a new poll finds that eight out of 10 people say they want the next Government to abolish hospital parking charges in England for patients with long term condit

To mark the first anniversary of free hospital parking in Scotland (31 December) this week, a new poll finds that eight out of 10 people say they want the next Government to abolish hospital parking charges in England for patients with long term conditions like cancer, according to leading cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

Macmillan is calling on the Government to follow Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and abolish hospital parking charges for all cancer patients in England.

For many patients like Karen, 46, who has to go to two hospitals for treatment for her breast cancer, finding the money to park her car is a major worry.

'I have to attend two hospitals and have to pay to park at both. I'm unable to work and on minimum benefits so I just don't have the money for this, I can't even afford bread and milk some days. Worse, I've even been late for appointments because I didn't have the right change for the machines. It's making me stressed and distressed on top of the worry about my cancer.'

Fifteen years ago cancer patients stayed in hospitals as in-patients, so would not need to travel for care. But now, with modern treatments, patients can be treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy on a day basis then go home - making them vulnerable to car park charges.

Hospitals save £6,000 by delivering a 6-week course of radiotherapy as an outpatient - money which could, and should, be used to help cancer patients with the cost of parking.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says: 'It is morally wrong that cancer patients in England are still being forced to fork out parking charges just so they can get to their life saving treatment. It's time this tax on illness ended for patients in England as well.

'The Governments of each other British nation have seen sense and brought in free hospital parking, now we are calling on the Westminster Government to do the same.

'Hospitals save money by treating cancer patients as out-patients, so there is no possible reason to then charge them when they get to hospital.'

The announcement in September by health secretary Andy Burnham to pledge free parking to in-patients was condemned by Macmillan for not going far enough and ignoring the same high cost of parking charges to those cancer patients having treatment as outpatients.

In the summer Macmillan revealed that 60 per cent of patients weren't offered discounted or free parking at their local hospital, despite guidance by the Department of Health stating this should happen.

www.macmillan.org.uk


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