Campaigners have demanded an end to the “stealth tax” of NHS car parking charges in England by handing a petition into Downing Street.
Motoring campaign group FairFuel UK and Conservative MP Robert Halfon delivered the document, signed by more than 25,000 people, on Monday morning.
Speaking outside Downing Street, FairFuel UK founder Howard Cox said: “It is a stealth tax, it is social injustice and it has got to stop.
“Technology has moved on. It is easier to monitor people parking wrongly.
“The technology is there for people to police the car parks.”
The Liberal Democrats have previously labelled the charges a “tax on sickness”.
The petition states: “Hospital car parking charges affect the vulnerable, visitors of ill relatives and hardworking NHS staff. The fees are a major cause of social injustice.
“In 2014, the Government introduced guidance suggesting free or reduced parking should be available for staff, blue badge holders and visitors of gravely ill relatives.”
It adds: “Since then, 47% of hospitals have increased their hourly parking charges and almost half still charge blue badge holders.”
The Government said removing charges would lead to £200 million being lost from patient care budgets and would mean fewer spaces were available.
While NHS trusts in England continue to charge patients, visitors and staff for parking, hospital parking in Scotland and Wales remains largely free.
NHS hospitals across England made a record £174 million from charging patients, visitors and staff for car parking in 2016/17, the Press Association found.