Burnley MP and Shadow Health Minister Julie Cooper, has continued her fight to end what she calls “the extortionate practice of taxing the sick”.
Having previously seen her Private Member’s Bill seeking free hospital parking for Registered Carers, “talked out” by Tory MPs, the subject again returned to the House of Commons, this time brought by Robert Halfon MP who sought the Burnley MP’s support to sponsor the debate.
In her speech, Mrs Cooper said: “We are charging the chronically ill, the terminally ill, and their carers and visitors. Over half of all people aged over 76 years have conditions that require them to attend regular appointments at hospital and hospital car parking charges are an extra burden for them and their families.
“We have a National Health Service that was set up to be free at the point of delivery established in 1948 to make health care a right for all but that is not what is happening. Even though hospital car parking is free in Scotland and Wales here in England hospital users are forced to pay often at extortionate rates.
“Charges vary from £1.50 an hour to £4 an hour. No discussion of hospital car parking charges would be complete without a consideration of the impact on NHS staff. Charges for staff vary from one site to another with charges of over £100 per month not being unusual.
“At some hospitals staff whose shift overruns because they are tending to the needs of patients face fines for overstaying their parking time. This is clearly no way to treat our health professionals. No wonder we face a crisis in recruitment and retention.”
The Labour MP has been particularly scathing of the practice of charging blue badge holders, saying that many of this group are simply unable to use public transport and more likely to need to attend hospital due to related conditions.
“I am proud that the next Labour government will ensure that our NHS is properly funded,” she added. “We will abolish car parking charges at all hospitals. To pay for this we will increase the premium tax on all private health insurance policies. No hospital will lose funding as a result of our policy.”