30 September 2009
In response to Andy Burnham’s announcement today that the Government is abolishing hospital car parking charges for in-patients in England, Macmillan Cancer Support’s Chief Executive, Ciarán Devane, said:
'We applaud the Government for recognising the high cost to families visiting relatives in hospitals, but are disappointed that they have ignored the same high cost of parking charges to those cancer patients having treatment as out-patients.
'Hospitals save £6,000 by delivering a 6-week course of radiotherapy as an out-patient - money which could, and should, be used to help all cancer patients with the cost of parking. The Government must reconsider and lift this great financial burden from those cancer patients attending regular treatment as out-patients.
'Charging vulnerable cancer patients while they are visiting hospital to receive life-saving treatment has caused needless distress for far too long and is nothing more than a tax on illness.'
***CASE STUDIES AVAILABLE***
For further information, please contact:
Anna Brosnan - Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 840 4699 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1. A recent survey by Macmillan found that:
Over half (59%) of the 337 cancer patients surveyed by Macmillan said they did not get discounted, or free, parking at their local hospital.
23% got free parking and 18% got a discount, however 12% of those said they didn’t take this up because they only found out after their treatment had finished.
When asked how they found out about the discounted or free parking, only 15% were told in their first appointment letter.
A third (32%) said they had to make savings in other areas in order to pay for the parking charges.
2. As part of the local decision making agenda in England, hospital trusts have been given responsibility to determine their own car parking policies. However the Department of Health issued guidance in December 2006 which states “NHS bodies are strongly recommended to have some kind of ‘season ticket’ arrangement, allowing free or reduced price parking for patients (and relatives/prime visitors of patients) with a long-term illness or serious condition requiring regular treatment.
3. Patients make 53 trips to hospital on average during the course of their cancer treatment, spending an average of £325.
4. Cancer patients having regular treatment like chemotherapy should not be forced into paying parking charges when they have little choice. The unsuitability and unreliability of public transport and hospital transport, and the distance to specialist cancer centres, as well as greater risk of infection, mean that cancer patients often have no alternative but to travel to hospital by car.
5. Macmillan has been campaigning on this issue since 2004 and has had national successes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where parking charges have either been scrapped altogether or free parking for cancer patients has been introduced (NI).
6. 300,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year, that’s 820 per day.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan Cancer Support is a leading cancer charity supporting and improving the lives of people affected by cancer by providing practical, medical, emotional and financial support. For more information about Macmillan Cancer Support, visit www.macmillan.org.uk.