Visiting loved ones during hospital treatment can be a difficult time enough - without worrying about the cost of parking.
West Londoners face a double whammy, as their hospital parking charges are among the most expensive in England.
It will set you back an average of £3 an hour to park at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, one of the highest average hourly rates in the whole of the country.
The cost of parking at the hospital has risen by more than a third from an average of £2.20 an hour in 2015/16, according to figures from the Estates Return Information Collection published by NHS Digital.
Parking charges for staff at the hospital have also been increased, with the cost rising by half from an average of 28p per hour in 2015/16 to 42p in 2016/17, making the site also one of the most expensive in England for staff parking.
The price has remained the same as in 2015/16 at all of the hospitals except St Mary’s, which did not charge for parking in 2015/16.
Parking charges for staff at all of the hospitals have also increased, up 17% from an average of 35p per hour in 2015/16, to an average of 41p per hour in 2016/17.
Northwick Park and St Mark’s, Central Middlesex Hospital, and Ealing Hospital, run by London North West Healthcare, all charge an average of £2.13 an hour to park, up from £2.03 an hour at Northwick Park and St Mark’s, and up from £2 an hour at the other two sites in 2015/16.
However, all three hospitals have cut prices for staff to an average of 8p per hour, down from 10p per hour at Northwick Park and St Mark’s, 11p per hour at Central Middlesex Hospital, and 24p per hour at Ealing Hospital.
Payment for staff parking has been introduced at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea, at an average of 26p per hour in 2016/17.
Out of 472 acute hospital trust sites across England, 303 charge patients for parking, which is 64%, down from 305 sites in 2015/16, and 307 charge staff to park, which is 65%, up from 303 in 2015/16.
There are 121 trust sites, 25%, that charge for disabled parking, up from 117 in 2015/16.
Of these, 21 sites started charging for disabled parking in 2016/17, while 13 stopped charging in 2016/17.
St Thomas’ Hospital, in Lambeth, is the most expensive place to park as a patient, at an average of £3.20 per hour, while Royal Bolton Hospital is the cheapest of those that charge at an average of 13p per hour, or more likely around £3 for 24 hours.
Nine sites started charging patients in 2016/17, including St Mary’s Hospital in West London, where it is now an average of £2.20 per hour to park, and Hurstwood Park Neurosciences Centre in Heywards Heath where it averages £1.20 per hour.
Across England, 15 sites started charging staff to park in 2016/17, with staff at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Chelsea, paying the biggest new cost at an average of 26p per hour. Seven sites stopped charging staff in 2016/17.
The hospital trusts have been approached for comment.
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