"I was incensed at being asked ..."

About: Victoria Infirmary (Northwich)

(as the patient),

What I liked

I was incensed at being asked to pay £3 to park at the hospital. I was sent by my GP for a blood test and X-ray. I have worked for the NHS for 33 years and am full time, so I had to take time off to attend. In the last few months I have been paying to visit my mother, who was in hospital from May to September (cost, at another hospital £1.80 per visit, 3 times a week and afternoon and evening visits) and my sister (Air ambulance from France and in hospital in UK from the end of October to mid December) This is an abomination. It means that the NHS is no longer free at the point of contact. I am disgusted with this and left without paying.

What could be improved

No charge. The hospital is not near shops and the town centre car parks are free.

Anything else?

I have contacted my MP.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from Isobel Carroll, PALS Officer, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to post your opinion to us regarding your concerns about the introduction of car parking charges at Victoria Infirmary, Northwich. It may help if I explain the background to these new arrangements.

As you may be aware, the majority of hospitals in England now levy car parking charges for visitors to their premises and the introduction of car parking charges at the Victoria Infirmary brings the hospital into line with the existing car parking arrangements at Leighton Hospital.

Income raised will be used to improve facilities at the hospital, funding barrier security as well as an additional three security officers to ensure the safekeeping of vehicles, property, staff and visitors. These security officers will work closely with the security team based at Leighton Hospital and, combined with the state-of-the-art CCTV cameras funded in 2007 by the WRVS, provide a reassurance to staff and visitors to the site that the security of their vehicle, belongings and personal safety is of the utmost importance to us. Any additional revenue generated will be reinvested into patient care and ensure our hospitals are safe and accessible.

The Trust also has an environmental responsibility to reduce the number of vehicles coming on to the site and to encourage use of public transport or car sharing schemes to access our services. We realise that this may cause some groups of visitors financial difficulties so have introduced the following concessions:

• Relatives of longer stay patients at the hospital have the option of purchasing a weekly ticket which will significantly reduce the parking rates. The £10 pass card allows seven days’ unlimited parking. Discounted parking forms can be obtained from the Administration Office on the ground floor of Verdin House. The office is open from 8.45 a.m. until 5 pm Monday to Thursday and 8.45 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. on Fridays. The Office is closed for lunch from 12.30 to l p.m.

• Patients requiring renal dialysis or long-term cancer treatment will not be charged for parking. Neither will visitors coming into the hospital to collect death certificates.

• Relatives or friends who come on to the site to drop off patients, staff or visitors will not be charged if they leave the car park within 20 minutes.

In addition, people attending the hospital who are in receipt of the following types of benefit or pension may be able to receive help with the cost of parking and necessary travel to hospital for NHS treatment:

• Income Support

• Income Based Job Seekers’ Allowance

• Tax Credit Exemption Card

• Pension Credit

• Valid HC2 or HC3 form

Further details can be obtained from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) or by contacting the Administration Office at Victoria Infirmary on 01606 564060.

Thank you again for leaving your comments, and although we are not able to reverse our decision to introduce car parking charges at Victoria Infirmary, I hope that this response has helped you to understand the rationale for doing this and that you may be able to take advantage of one of the concessions that are available.

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