Select Committee on Health Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by David Magnus (CP 35)

HOSPITAL CAR PARKS—EAST AND NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE NHS TRUST

  Table 1 below shows the increase in visitors car park charges that came into force on 3 October 2005. For three, four and six to 10 hours the charges were doubled. Table 2 shows that the new charges are excessive when compared to the corresponding charges at council-run short-stay car parks in five town centres in the Trust Area.

  In addition I would like to make the following points:

  The Trust's car parks are funded by cash payments from those members of the public who use them, whereas the remainder of the Trust's activities is funded mainly by central government and the general taxpayer, and by National Insurance contributions. I believe it is therefore logical to expect the The Trust's accountants should treat the car park as a separate business enterprise operating within the Trust, with its own capital assets, its own cash income, and its own relevant outgoings. Any fair and reasonable assessment of car parking charges should match the case income against those outgoings that are not already paid for by central government. Otherwise, if the charges are set too high, then:

    (1)  the car park operation will become a profit-making concern, subsidising the other loss-making clinical and medical departments through the excess cash payments of car park users; and

    (2)  because the car park users are also taxpayers, any excess cash payments they make will in effect be an unfair tax surcharge.

  I suggest these consequences are unacceptable and represent a corruption of the fundamental principles of the NHS.

  I also believe that the new charges were deliberately pitched at an excessively high level in order to help rescue the Trust from its overall financial deficit of £8.6 million in 2004-05. In that case it would appear that visitors to the Trust's hospitals have been unfairly targeted, just because it is easy to do so by manipulating the pay machines in the car parks. This is blatant overcharging for non-medical ancillary services.

Table 1

INCREASE IN CHARGES


Time, hours
1
2
3
4
5
6-10

Old charge, £
2.00
2.00
2.00
2.00
2.50
2.50
New charge, £
2.00
2.00
4.00
4.00
4.00
5.00
% increase
0
0
100
100
60
100


Table 2

COMPARATIVE CHARGES, £


Time,hours
1
2
3
4

Stevenage
0.80
1.00
2.20
2.50
Hitchin
0.50
0.50
2.00
3.00
Letchworth GC
0.40
0.50
1.00
2.00
Hertford
0.50
1.10
1.70
2.20
Welwyn GC
1.00
1.00
2.00
3.00
Average
0.64
0.82
1.78
2.54
E & NH Trust
2.00
2.00
4.00
4.00
% excess
212
144
125
57

David Magnus
16 January 2006







 
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