Patient hits out at increase in parking charges

A HOSPITAL trust has been criticised for raising parking charges by 50 per cent.

Alnmouth resident Joff Bailey was ready to pay the 80p charge to park outside Bondgate Surgery in Alnwick when he got to the machine to find that the price had increased to £1.20.

“I couldn’t buy a ticket,” the 66-year-old said.

“I think it is a bit steep. It’s enough at 80p, especitally when you are only in the health centre for 10 or 15 minutes on average.

“When I asked at reception and said I didn’t have a ticket because I didn’t have the right money she said that it was nothing to do with them.”

The car park, which serves Alnwick Infirmary and Bondgate Surgery as well as Hillcrest Maternity Unit and the Infirmary Drive Medical Group, is owned and run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Brian Griggs, director of estates and facilities at the Trust, said: “This is our first increase in the hourly cost of patient and visitor car parking since December 2005 and the new charge is in line with other trusts in the region.

“We have actually reduced the cost of parking for between four and 24 hours from £4.80 to £4.

“Our parking charges pay for the upkeep, maintenance and security of our car parks and the increase to the hourly charge is due to the rise in these costs.

“We offer concessionary parking in a number of cases to relieve an unreasonable financial burden on our patients or their visitors. These cases may include patients who are attending regularly for an extended period, the visitors of long-stay patients and parents who are staying with children in hospital.”

The new charges came into effect in October.