James Cook University Hospital on Teesside is increasing its hospital parking costs. The increase in parking costs, which are to rise by as much as £1.30 a visit, will come into effect tomorrow, hitting both patients and staff who use the car park at Teesside’s biggest hospital.

Dr Julia Reid MEP, UKIP’s health spokesperson has described hospital parking charges as a “stealth tax on the sick and the vulnerable” and said that Trusts are “showing their gratitude to their hard-working doctors and nurses by slapping them in the face with ever increasing parking costs.”

“Hospital parking charges are unfair and need to be abolished, not increased!”

The Trust’s Health chiefs have said that the increase in parking costs will pay for “further improvements” to their car parks, to which Jonathan Arnott, who is Teesside’s UKIP MEP and the Party’s Treasury Spokesman, responded: “We’ve been told for years these charges are supposed to help improve hospital services, but this increase is being earmarked to improve the car park. It’s as though they’re making it up as they go along.

“It’s not even as if hospital car parking charges raise a lot of money – the amounts are tiny in the grand scheme of things, and we’ve repeatedly costed in our Manifestos how we can afford to scrap them altogether.

“Most of this came in on Labour’s watch at the time of their costly PFI experiment that we’re still paying for, so they’ve certainly got questions to answer.”

The Trust’s director of estates also laid part of the blame for the increased parking costs on ‘increased inflation’. In response to this, Dr Reid said: “And how many of those using the hospital car park have had their wages increased to match said inflation? Not the hard-working nurses, ancillary staff other allied healthcare professionals, that’s for sure. Since the 1% public sector pay gap began in 2010, their salaries have plummeted in real terms, which is a similar story for many of those also using the car park.”

Dr Reid added: “In our 2015 manifesto UKIP pledged £200 million to abolish hospital parking charges and we also repeated this pledge in our 2017 manifesto. We still stand by this.”

Other Hospitals in recent months have also increased parking fees including hospitals in Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.