Health officials have announced a hike in car parking charges at several borough health centres.
Bosses at the Wigan, Wrightington and Leigh NHS Trust (WWL) are set to implement the new fees at Wigan Infirmary, Wrightington Hospital and the Thomas Linacre Centre, in a move to keep up with rising maintenance costs.
The new prices at the three sites are due to come into effect by the end of August 2017.
Officials have defended the move, citing the increase as the first change in parking fees since 2015.
Daniel Evans, Associate Director of Estates and Facilities at the WWL, said: “The trust board has agreed that car parking charges should be increased by an average of 10 percent. This reflects the current costs and the principle that car parking should not be subsidised at the expense of patient services.
“These charges have been compared and they are similar to other local NHS Trusts.”
Mr Evans also stated that the revised pricing would aim to be as fair as possible for all car park users, insisting that money raised from parking charges would cover the cost of provisions such as maintenance, security staff, lighting and CCTV.
He also commented: “We are one of the few Trusts that allow visitors to park for free for 30 minutes to allow easy drop off and pick up.”
Over the past few years, the Trust has invested more than £2.5m in additional car parking facilities and improvements at all its sites.
Two of the WWL’s sites now have “pay on exit” barrier controls which meet with Department of Health guidance, with visitors paying for the actual length of their stay. A new weekly pass is also set to be introduced to allow parking at a discounted rate.
Mr Evans added: “The revised pricing is aiming to be as fair and equitable as possible for all car park users. Feedback from patients and visitors suggests that parking on site is now much better than it was in the past.Despite all of these improvements to date, we are continually looking at further opportunities to improve parking and accessibility.”
The new charges for NHS sites across the borough are:
0-30 minutes: Remains free
Up to 1 hour at Wrightington or TLC: Current tariff - £1.50. New tariff - £1.70
1-2 hours: Current tariff - £2.50. New tariff - £2.70
2-4 hours: Current tariff - £4.50. New tarifff - £5
4 hours or more: Current tariff - £6. New tariff - £6.50
During the recent General Election campaign hospital parking charges became a contentuous issue with Labour pledging to end all car parking charges at NHS England hospitals by raising insurance tax on private healthcare to 20%, if they were elected.
Jeremy Corbyn vowed a Labour government would make parking free for patients, visitors and NHS staff, with the £160m annual cost of the policy paid for by the insurance increase.