IMPROVEMENTS will be made to make it easier to pay and park at Worcestershire Royal Hospital – but “excessive” charges will not be reduced.
The health trust which runs the hospital has agreed to a number of new measures being introduced this autumn, including a new one-hour rate to help people looking to make shorter visits.
It is also looking to invest in a debit card payment option, and has launched an investigation to see if more spaces can be provided at the site.
But despite concern from the city’s MP Robin Walker, the hospital has not announced any reductions in parking charges.
The new one-hour charge has yet to be decided, but will be made public ahead of a meeting of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust’s board meeting on Wednesday, September 24.
At the moment the hospital charges £3 for up to two hours of parking; £4.50 for two to four hours; £6 for four to six hours and £7.50 all day.
In 2012/13 the trust made £2.2 million from parking fees at the Royal, of which less than a fifth – £403,000 – went into patient care and the rest on maintaining the service.
Mr Walker was one of 150 MPs to sign a House of Commons motion on Monday urging hospitals to cut “excessive” rates and make it easier for people to pay.
Mr Walker says during the summer recess from parliament he’s knocked on doors and people have continuously raised it as a concern.
“I spoke to a lot of people on the doorsteps over the summer recess and it was raised to me as a real issue,” he said.
“If you live in Worcester just about everyone, at some point, has to visit the Royal and if the charges are too much it just encourages people to leave their cars in residential streets.
“They ought to look at a multi-storey as I know capacity is also an issue, they should allow people to pay by card and I also think they should consider something like the Ringo system where people can pay on their phone.”
The motion says for many people getting to hospital by car is “essential” and urges “excessive fees” to be cut.
The trust has responded by revealing a series of measures are in the pipeline.
Chris Tidman, director of resources, said: “While the trust would like to reduce or even eliminate car parking charges for its patients, the economic reality is that this could only be achieved with an equivalent increase in NHS funding to ensure that clinical services were unaffected.
“However, following feedback from patients and visitors, we do intend to introduce a one-hour charge this autumn for patients and visitors making shorter visits.
“As many of our patients require regular visits to our hospitals we also offer a spe cial concessionary parking charge of £1 per day for parents visiting children in our care, patients with cancer and other long-stay patients and their visitors.
“We are also looking into investing in debit card payment options for our parking charges to complement the cash point machines already available near to payment points.”
He said the trust recognises that capacity “remains a problem”, despite 100 extra spaces being created in 2012, and efforts are being made to create more.