West Suffolk Hospital to raise parking charges

West Suffolk Hospital car park. ENGANL00120120530173253

West Suffolk Hospital car park. ENGANL00120120530173253

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Parking charges for anyone staying more than an hour at West Suffolk Hospital will rise by up to 66 per cent next year.

Blue badge holders will also be charged the same as everyone else to help pay for disabled access improvements, which the trust says was the ‘main concern’ of disabled drivers.

The hospital trust will open 400 more parking spaces in early 2017 and the free period rises from 20 minutes to 30 at the back of the hospital, while the next hour’s price drops 39 per cent to £2.

But hours after that cost more with rises from 21 per cent for two hours, at £4, to a 66 per cent rise for four hours from £4.80 to £8.

Macmillan Ward cancer patients see a rise of only 4.1 per cent from £4.80 to £5.

The trust says it has liased with patient representatives and is raising charges ‘to make a modest contribution’ towards its investment.

It says the charges are in a tiered structure that encourages visitors to leave the hospital site as soon as their clinical appointment is finished to increase parking capacity by improving flow.

Jan Bloomfield, director of workforce and communications, said: “We have listened to what our patients, staff and nearby residents have told us about the problems with parking and taken positive action as a result.

“Investing £2 million of our capital in extra spaces and improvement works has been a difficult decision and one we haven’t made lightly.

“I think it shows just how serious our car parking problems have become.

“We will continue to encourage alternative forms of transport wherever we can but accept that for many people the car may be their only means of arriving here.

“Concessions to our parking tariffs are available for all patients who are on low income and receiving a range of benefits.”

Hardwick County and Southgate borough councillor Sarah Stamp said: “The hospital faces an unenviable challenge trying to balance the huge demand for parking spaces on site with the need to continually invest in patient care facilities.

“I applaud them for this brave investment in a difficult financial climate and see the changes being made as a big step forwards in addressing some of the issues that residents have been consistently raising with me.”