Renewed calls for NHS Trusts to exempt carers from hospital parking charges – What do you think?

Renewed calls for NHS Trusts to exempt carers from hospital parking charges
Renewed calls for NHS Trusts to exempt carers from hospital parking charges

An investigation by the Press Association news agency found that a third of hospital trusts in England have increased their car parking charges in the last year. The analysis combines figures obtained from NHS Trusts and data submitted to NHS Digital (formerly the Health and Social Care Information Centre).

 

This investigation comes one year on from Carers UK’s analysis of data released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre [1] which showed that the percentage of hospitals charging patients and visitors to park has doubled in a decade (15% in 2004-05 to 30% in 2014-15). Further analysis by the charity also revealed that of the NHS hospital Trusts in England that charge patients and visitors for parking, 63% had increased their charges since the previous year (2014).  

 

Carers UK’s analysis underpinned the charity’s Park the Charges campaign, working with Julie Cooper MP to make hospital parking free for carers in England [2]. The campaign led to the Department of Health updating its guidance on hospital parking charges to specifically include carers – for the very first time – as a group for which concessions, such as free or reduced charges or caps, should be available.

 

In response to the Press Association’s investigation, Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:

“This is a real issue for families of people who have long-term conditions or are severely disabled and need frequent or long hospital visits. Paying the costs of car parking just adds to the stresses of caring for a family member or close friend who is ill or disabled and can push families who need a lot of hospital visits into financial hardship. Some of the stories from families show just how stressful it is – families on low incomes are forced into debt by excessive car parking charges, whilst others worry about how they will pay when their relative is seriously-ill.    

 

“In some rural areas, cars are essential to get people to hospital and for others, public transport is not an option because they are simply too ill or it is impractical. This issue needs to be urgently re-examined by NHS Trusts. It’s absolutely essential that hospital trusts look at ensuring carers, in particular, are exempt from paying charges. Ideally, we would like all car parking fees to be scrapped and follow Wales and Scotland where hospital car parking is free of charge.

 

“We’d advise all carers to get in touch with their NHS Trust, find out what the exemptions are, and, if they don’t have an exemption for carers, point them in the direction of the Department of Health guidance which has recently been updated to specifically include carers as a group that should be given discounts or exemptions.”

 

Carers UK has produced a template letter for families to send to their local NHS Trust to tell them about the Department of Health guidance and to ask what concessions will now be available for carers. The letter can be downloaded here: www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/hospital-car-parking/contact-your-local-hospital-trust

[1] Carers UK press release, 16 October 2015: https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/news/scrap-hospital-parking-charges-for-carers-or-risk-serious-impact-on-nhs-warns-campaign

 

[2] Carers UK’s Park the Charges campaign: https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/hospital-car-parking

Carers UK responds to report warning of growing strain on sandwich generation of carers

Carers UK responds to report warning of growing strain on sandwich generation of carers
Carers UK responds to report warning of growing strain on sandwich generation of carers

Carers UK responds to research published today by Macmillan Cancer Support, which shows that around 110,000 people in the UK are caring for a parent with cancer, whilst also looking after their own children [1].

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, said:

“In raising awareness of the pressures facing people who are caring for a parent with cancer whilst also looking after their young children and often juggling work, Macmillan’s research highlights a far wider and deeper issue for carers who support loved ones across many conditions.

“Indeed, there are a staggering 2.4 million people who are sandwiched between raising families of their own whilst providing care to an older loved one with a disability or chronic illness. And it is women who are more likely to shoulder this responsibility, with our research showing that they are four times more likely than men to have given up work due to multiple caring responsibilities.

“Today’s report adds to growing evidence that this is fast becoming one of the hardest pressed generations [2]. As a society, we must recognise that we all likely to either receive or provide care at some point in our lives. Without the right support at the right time, caring can take a serious toll on carers’ health, finances and ability to have a life outside of caring. With this in mind, the Government must use the opportunity of its new Carers Strategy to make lasting change in the way public services and workplaces support families.”

Carers UK is here with advice, information and support wherever you are on your caring journey. For practical advice and information about caring:

[1] Under Pressure – The growing strain on cancer carers (2016) Macmillan Cancer Support

[2] Caring responsibilities in

‘Bedroom tax’ ruled unlawful by Court of Appeal

Carers UK
Carers UK

Today, the so-called bedroom tax has been declared discriminatory by Court of Appeal judges, following a legal challenge by grandparents who care for their disabled grandson and a survivor of domestic violence.

The Court of Appeal has granted permission to the Secretary of State to appeal to the Supreme Court against today’s decision that the discrimination caused by the bedroom tax breaks the law.

Paul and Susan Rutherford care for their profoundly disabled 14-year-old grandson and live in a specially adapted home, which has a room for a professional care worker to stay when providing overnight care. This has been deemed as a spare bedroom and, as a result, their housing benefit has been reduced. This is despite there being an exemption for disabled adults in the same situation. Today, the Court of Appeal judges accepted that the bedroom tax unlawfully discriminates against disabled children requiring overnight care, as it does not allow for an additional bedroom for their overnight carer.


Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK, gave a statement of evidence in the original case which was referenced in today’s judgment. Ms Holzhausen argued that families who have a clear need for additional bedrooms for a carer should be entitled to an additional room; and that alternatives suggested by the government – such as moving to smaller accommodation or taking in a lodger – are not appropriate for carers.

60,000 carers are currently affected by the bedroom tax.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “This policy is having a catastrophic impact on families, many of whom are already struggling practically, emotionally and financially to care for seriously-ill or disabled loved ones.

“Carers UK has argued that the policy unfairly penalises carers since it was first introduced in April 2013. Our research shows that those carers who are affected by the bedroom tax are being left unable to pay their electricity and heating bills and some families are falling behind on their rent and facing eviction.

“Following today’s ruling, we urge the Government to amend the regulations to protect carers and their families. The policy is clearly having a devastating impact on vulnerable families and the Government cannot allow this to continue.”