Hospital to review its ‘cash cow’ car parks

David Jones, left, with Nick Gibb, Enid and Esmond Newman at Worthing Hospital
David Jones, left, with Nick Gibb, Enid and Esmond Newman at Worthing Hospital

A DIRECTOR of Worthing Hospital has revealed a review of the site’s parking facilities while be taking place following a meeting between Littlehampton’s MP and a duo from Toddington.

Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb joined with Toddington Park residents Enid and Esmond Newman to meet hospital officials last week in an effort to address ‘extortionate’ parking fees.

The campaign was started by pensioners Enid and Esmond after they fell foul of parking prices at Worthing Hospital, paying about £70, while Mr Newman was being treated for bladder cancer earlier this year.

However, hospital officials stressed that car parking fees had not risen in five years, were in line with the local authority rates and that limited free parking was available for patients undergoing certain treatments – which included those of Mr Newman.

The 76-year-old said: “We were lucky as there were two of us. But if you‘ve got a pensioner on their own being forced to pay these extortionate prices out of their pension it must feel like they are putting their dinner money in the machine.”

The Newmans contacted Mr Gibb who was equally worried about the fees other pensioners could face.

He said: “It is important the hospital doesn’t use cash-strapped pensioners or people on low incomes as cash cows.

“Worthing Hospital needs to be cautious about their parking charges – the principle that the NHS is free at the point of use must not be bypassed via the parking lot.”

David Jones, director of facilities and estates at the hospital, said he understood the Newman’s concerns.

He said the hospital had already refunded the couple some of the costs for parking.

However, he said this could have been sorted earlier, if the couple had approached the hospital directly.

He added a review into hospital parking services would be conducted in the next couple of months as part of the green travel plan – something which had been on the cards prior to Newman’s coming forward to the hospital.

“We try to keep the costs of parking as low as possible, and our charges haven’t gone up for five years,” Mr Jones said. “We also provide significant concessions for patients who are in hospital for a long period, and for specific groups – such as patients undergoing regular dialysis or cancer treatment – we ensure their parking is free.

“We set our charges to be fair, and in line with other local authorities in the area, which helps to make sure our car parks are only used by people visiting our hospitals and not the town centre.”