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Harlow MP Halfon pleased at further victories for NHS parking campaign

Politics / Wed 3rd Sep 2014 at 04:02pm

FOLLOWING months of campaigning to lower the prices of car parks in hospitals, Harlow MP Robert Halfon has welcomed the news that new NHS guidelines require cost cuts for certain groups.

After denouncing the costs as a “stealth tax” on the poor, Robert Halfon secured widespread support, both through media coverage and an online petition, as well as raising it with Ministers in Parliament and writing a report about the issue.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt declared: “Patients and families shouldn’t have to deal with the added stress of unfair parking charges. These clear ground rules set out our expectations, and will help the public hold the NHS to account for unfair charges or practices.”

The decision was therefore taken to scrap or reduce parking fees for relatives of seriously ill people, and those patients that have to spend an extended amount of time at the hospital. People with disabilities and NHS staff whose work hours do not allow them to use public transport are also part of the reform.

Robert Halfon, who led the campaign, announced in a Parliamentary debate:

“We need clear guidelines, and I welcome what the Government have said about this over the past week.”

“These changes are a significant step forward. Due to the very nature of the fees, hospital parking charges hit the most vulnerable and their families, at a very difficult time in their lives. Research that I conducted showed that some patients were paying over £500 per week to park in NHS hospitals, and that Essex was the most expensive county for patients to park in outside London. On top of this, nurses have been found to be paying an average of £200 per week to park at their place of work, despite shift patterns often making driving to work essential.”

“I have received many complaints about hospital car parking charges since I was elected Harlow’s MP in 2010, and I hope that these changes will make health care more accessible for everyone in Harlow. However, I will continue to push for the Government to completely scrap them.”

The media have relayed the story as a victory for patients and visitors, with the BBC, the Daily Express and the Sun reporting on it.

Mr Halfon said:

“These clear ground rules set out our expectations, and will help the public hold the NHS to account for unfair charges or practices.”

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