Hospital bosses in Mansfield and Ashfield have defended their car parking policy after complaints about charging disabled people to park.
Labour has hit out after NHS Digital revealed 139 hospital sites in England charge disabled patients and visitors for parking – including Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Mansfield Hospital and Sutton’s King’s Mill Hospital.
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Labour claims Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt called parking charges for disabled people a “stealth tax on the vulnerable” and issued guidance which would cut the cost of parking for certain groups, including disabled people.
Justin Madders, Labour’s shadow health minister, said: “It is a disgrace Mr Hunt has done nothing to tackle parking charges for disabled people, despite acknowledging himself they are unfair.
“Disabled people often have no choice but to drive to hospital and it’s wrong to target them with parking fees.
“The truth is hospitals are being forced to introduce or increase parking charges, because they are short of cash.
“This Government has caused a financial crisis in the NHS, and disabled people are paying the price.”
A hospital spokesman said: “Sherwood Forest Hospitals has excellent parking facilities across our sites with the majority modern, well-lit and covered by CCTV.
“We have 87 spaces designated for disabled parking at convenient locations close to hospital entrances.
“There is no national policy on what or who NHS hospitals should charge for parking, and currently all staff, visitors and patients on our sites are charged for using one of our car parks.
“Patients who receive certain benefits may be entitled to reclaim car parking charges as part of the NHS Travel Cost Scheme, and we maintain the ability to grant concessionary parking for some people including bereaved visitors, and patients who attend our sites very regularly for ongoing treatment.
“Any money taken from car parking at our sites goes back into the running of the hospital, including maintaining and improving our car parking facilities.
“Ultimately this means more funds can be focused on patient care.”