Royal Sussex County Hospital accused of 'cashing in' on families lowest moments

Charges at the site increased substantially at the end of last year. Credit: PA / ITV Meridian

One of the south east's biggest hospitals has been accused of 'cashing in' on families, after it hiked some of its parking charges by more than 68% at the end of last year.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital, run by University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, put the prices up in December to bring them in line with local rates.

It meant charges for two hours rose from £2.50 to £4.20, a rise of more than two thirds.

At the time NHS trusts across the country were advised to ensure their car parking charges were not lower than 'local car parks', however the nearest local authority run car park to the site is nearly a mile away.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. Credit: PA

Sharon Vernon, whose mother was recently admitted to the Brighton hospital, said she was struggling to afford the increased charges.

Writing on social media Sharon said: "I’m really shocked that the hospital car park has gone from £2.50 per hour to £4.20 per hour. I’m not sure I can afford to visit my mum everyday.

"Visiting hours are precious to me at the moment. If anyone know somewhere else I can park a bit cheaper please message me.

"I do feel cashing in on parking at sometimes a families lowest moment is just the worse thing to do!"

Others from Brighton shared Sharon's views, with another user of the hospital saying the situation was 'appalling'.

"My walking distance is poor and having to pay a silly amount of money to attend appointments is just another example of greed overriding compassion," they said.

Another local theorised the hospital is one of the 'least accessible in the UK, saying: "The accepted option is to park at the Marina and walk or still have to get a bus if you are immobile. It’s the hospital not a luxury."

Some suggested using the bus instead for local journeys, but the cost would be similar to just parking at the site.

The hospital's website does state that concessions are available for patients who are in hospital for a long period and their relatives and carers.

It also says that income from car parking charges is re-invested in the management and maintenance of the Trust’s car parks and in green travel plan initiatives.

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Last year we changed our car parking charges for patients at the Royal Sussex County Hospital to be in line with local council car park rates, as we are recommended to do. 

"We try and keep the costs of hospital car parking as low as possible, and there are significant concessions for patients who are in hospital for a long period, and their visitors.

"People visiting someone nearing the end of their life, for example, can talk to ward staff to help them get a free parking permit, and people having regular dialysis or cancer treatment also have free parking."

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