Police Officers standing outside Steppington Hospital.
Rising parking charges at hospitals could soon see empty parking areas at hospitals. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Parking rates at hospitals affiliated to the National Health Scheme in the UK has seen a constant rise with some hospitals charging 200 per cent more than the rates applicable a year ago.

In a study conducted by a data company SSentif on 197 hospitals across the UK, it was found that 28 per cent of trusts affiliated to the NHS had increased parking charges for visitors or patients bringing vehicles to the hospitals. Sky News reported that quarter of the trusts providing medical services in the UK had increased parking charges to a maximum of £3.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in West Yorkshire, which charges £2.50 an hour, provides the most expensive parking service at its hospital location. At 52 pence an hour, south west provides the most affordable parking service at hospitals. London is the most expensive in all of UK with £1.02 per hour bill, cited the Public Service UK in its report on the increase of charges.

Citizen groups have been voicing their protest against the increase as it really hit hard on someone who has to regularly undergo treatment.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust put its hourly parking charge up by 200% between 2009/10 and 2010/11 while parking at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust went up 112 per cent, according to a Sky News report.

"Cancer is an expensive condition and patients shouldn't be penalised for accessing the treatment they need, said Duleep Allirajah, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, UK. Public transport is generally not an option as they are undergoing gruelling treatment," the policy head told the Huffington Post.

The government discontinued collecting car parking revenue generation data in 2008/9.

Health Minister Simon Burns, when questioned on the rise in parking charges, quipped, "No one should be paying extortionate amounts to park in an NHS car park, but introducing free hospital car parking could cost the NHS more than £100m - money that would otherwise be spent on patient care," said the Sky News report.