Fury over University Hospital of North Staffordshire's parking charge rise
PARKING charges are going up at Staffordshire's biggest hospital, The Sentinel can reveal.
The increase will see the minimum four-hour charge at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire rise from £2 to £3 from April.
And disabled blue badge holders will have to pay to park at the Hartshill centre for the first time.
In a further move announced by the hospital last night, the £6.11-a-month staff parking permit will be scrapped and replaced with a sliding payment scale depending on individual salaries.
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Unhappy patients and visitors last night criticised the decision to put up the charges.
Latest available figures show the hospital pocketed £716,000 in parking charges in 2010/11.
Thirty-year-old Npower employee, Anthony Tweedie, from Hartshill, said he was shocked by the news.
He said: "It seems excessive, the charges seemed a lot in the first place at £2 but a 50 per cent rise is a big increase.
"The surrounding residential streets are always full of cars and I don't blame people for not wanting to park there."
Bar manager, Ben Robinson, aged 28, from Newcastle, regularly visits the hospital with a relative.
He said: "From £2 to £3 is such a huge rise and will greatly affect me and I am sure many other people.
"I think it is silly that taxpayers have to pay hospital car parking charges at all considering that we pay for the NHS, through our own money. And the fact that staff are made to fork out, as well, is disgusting."
Andrew Moreton, aged 27, from Cobridge, regularly has to take a family member to the hospital.
He said: "I have to come here quite a lot which ends up costing me a fortune.
"It is bad enough that patients and families have to spend so much to visit but staff should not have to pay to come to work." Parking charges have not risen at the hospital for six years.
Long-stay charges will not increase, while the £3.40-a-week concessionary parking permit will remain the same.
Exemptions will continue for cancer and kidney patients. More than 1,900 parking spaces are set aside for patients and visitors – with 300 more planned next year.
Staff use a separate 1,300-space parking area.
Hospital spokesman Andrew Ashcroft said: "It is important that we are able to keep parking fees low for patients, visitors and staff.
"However, we need to ensure the creation and maintenance of parking spaces does not impact on the finances allocated for direct patient care for a hospital that treats more than 600,000 patients a year."