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On 24 June 2015, Julie Cooper presented the Hospital Parking Charges (Exemption for Carers) Bill, having come fourth in the Private Members’ Bill Ballot.

This briefing has been prepared in advance of the Bill’s Second Reading in the House of Commons on 30 October 2015.

The Bill makes provision for exempting “qualifying” carers from hospital car parking charges. It would place a duty on health authorities to exempt carers who are currently in receipt of, or have an underlying entitlement for, Carer’s Allowance from paying car parking charges at healthcare facilities in England.

The Bill also provides for exempting “eligible” carers from hospital car parking charges. Eligible carers would include those who have been assessed by their local authority as eligible for free hospital car parking charges. Eligible carers may also be those who have been certified by a clinician as providing, or intending to provide, substantial care on a regular basis.

These duties would apply to NHS hospitals, walk-in centres and GP practices, as well as private hospitals.

Speaking about the Bill, Julie Cooper said:

Hospital car parking charges place an unfair burden on carers. Carers have told us that the emotional and financial impact of hospital parking charges seriously undermines their ability to continue caring well for their loved ones and themselves. This could be catastrophic for the NHS which, without carers, wouldn’t survive. The cost of providing carers with free hospital parking in England is negligible when compared with these potential consequences.

With the huge demographic and financial challenges facing the NHS, it has never been more important to support carers. That is why I have put forward this Bill, urging politicians and health bosses alike to listen to what carers are telling them and park the charges for carers.[1]

The Bill extends to England only.

Hospital parking charges in Scotland and Wales were abolished in 2008. Three car parks in Scotland, operated under Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts still have charges[2],  and four hospitals in Wales continue to charge, but have been told to abolish charges once contracts with private parking firms end.[3] Car parking charges have also been abolished in most hospitals in Northern Ireland, and for those that remain, many patients with cancer and other long-term conditions are exempt.[4]

[1]     Carers UK, Scrap hospital parking charges for carers or risk serious impact on NHS – warns campaign, 16 October 2015

[2]     “NHS car parking savings ‘pass £13m’”, BBC, 21 April 2013

[3]     “Hospital car parking guidance to reduce some charges”, BBC, 23 August 2014

[4]     Car parking charges in the health and social care sector, Northern Ireland Assembly, 28 November 2011

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