PARKING charges could be introduced at Stamford Hospital as health chiefs try to reduce a £38m deficit.
Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust has already announced plans to axe 300 jobs across the trust to help its ailing finances.
Now it has confirmed that it is looking into charges for Stamford Hospital’s car parks but says no firm plans have been made.
Stamford and Bourne MP Nick Boles (Con) said: “While I do not welcome car parking charges, anything that can help reduce the deficit that the hospital trust has, without cutting the services that people can access, is something I understand. While I regret the need for it I am not going to oppose it as the alternative is to cut services.”
Chairman of the Friends of Stamford Hospital Mike Dronfield said: “Parking is very tight at the hospital and a lot of people park there and walk into town to go shopping. There is not enough space for patients and visitors. I understand why they are looking into it.”
Stamford mayor John Binder said he felt that if introducing parking charges was a way of making money and keeping staff on, it would be a good thing.
“Most hospitals do have car parking charges,” he said. “However I would not like to see patients or patients’ relatives being charged.”
Parking at Peterborough City Hospital is free for the first 30 minutes. After that there is a charge of £2 for every two hours, then it is £1 for every further hour up to six hours. A stay from six hours to 24 hours is £10.
The trust’s financial problems are down to a reduction in its income from primary care trusts and increases in running costs and staff numbers. Peterborough City Hospital, which opened in November and cost £289m, was paid for under a private finance initiative and the repayments are contributing to the deficit.
Stamford Hospital’s grounds are home to a number of services, including the Sheepmarket Surgery and the Evergreen Care Trust.
The surgery owns its own site and has 65 parking spaces, which are used by its 12 GPs, 25 staff and patients. The surgery has 13,250 people on its books.
Practice manager Nikki Kelly said the surgery would be anxious about any introduction of parking charges at the hospital and hopes to discuss the matter with hospital chiefs.
She said: “We would obviously have concerns if this were to proceed because it would impact on our parking availability which we require for our patients at all times.”