I read with interest the item regarding Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust raising the patient and visitor parking charges at its hospitals (News Post Leader, February 7).
While I cannot object to the trust raising its charges, I find the reasoning for it astonishing.
It states that it is in response to ‘repeated reports that some car parks, especially at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital near Cramlington, are being misused by the public as a cheap, long-stay alternative when they go on holiday or shopping’.
If we look at that particular hospital, Cramlington, we would see that it is some considerable distance from the nearest shopping centre, Manor Walks – a good bus journey in fact.
Also, to use it for parking while going on holiday would involve a £14 taxi ride each way, to and from the nearest airport.
I am sure hospitals like the Royal Victoria Infirmary, because it is situated in Newcastle city centre, could be misused for long-term shopping trips.
However, we should consider that most other shopping malls, especially if they have bars, restaurants or cinemas, will allow parking for up to four hours. Even smaller outlets allow up to two hours of free parking.
I believe the hospital trust has taken an easy option, which increases the revenue for the car park owner without convincing us it will solve the abuse.
Surely it is within the wisdom of the trust to address the abuse of parking without penalising the shorter stay patients and visitors.
It states that it already has provision for free parking for patients needing regular treatment, like cancer patients and visitors of long-stay patients.
It does not mention charges for stays longer than 24 hours, or even stays of a week or more. A stay of up to 24 hours at £6 means £42 for a week, not a bad charge for long-stay parking compared to airport parking.
Surely charging could be vastly increased above this for parking longer than 24 hours, while still maintaining the facility available mentioned earlier for genuine patients and visitors.
I simply cannot believe the trust cannot weed out parking abuse without penalising genuine users.