HOSPITALS have been ordered to review car parking fees after a review found some regular patients and visitors are financially burdened with hefty costs due to repeat visits.
The Labor state government promised to review hospitals’ car parking fees before last year’s state election and commissioned an independent review of carparks at Victoria’s public hospitals.
The review found hospitals charge different car parking rates and only some provide discounted parking to regular patients, visitors, carers and pensioners.
In some cases discounted carpark fees were not displayed or promoted by hospitals. The government has ordered every public health service operating fee-based car parking to have a formal policy in place by February next year.
Health services must also publish and publicise car parking policies and all fees, including concessions details, must be clearly displayed at carpark entrances, points of payment and signs inside hospitals.
“Having to go to hospital regularly can be distressing enough, both as a patient and as a visitor, without having to worry about how much it will cost to park the car,” Health Minister Jill Hennessy said.
“We’re directing all public hospitals to do what they can to ensure Victorians can safely, conveniently – and economically – receive regular treatment or visit their loved ones in hospital.”
Peninsula Health planning and infrastructure acting executive director Rick Law said Frankston Hospital already had a formal parking policy.
“Patients, carers or relatives demonstrating financial hardship can access concession parking rates by speaking to a hospital social worker. Oncology patients are not charged for parking.”
Frankston Hospital carparking fees begin at $7 for one hour rising to $15 for five hours, the maximum fee for all-day parking. A weekly rate of $45 is available.
The Victorian Healthcare Association welcomed the review into hospitals’ carpark fees but noted “Victoria’s public hospitals are not funded to build and run car parks”.
Association CEO Tom Symondson said public hospitals take out loans from the government to build car parks but these must be repaid and hospitals have few options to raise revenue to repay the loans.
“We would welcome the government contributing to the cost of providing parking discounts as well as supporting hospitals to expand their parking services given the pressures of increasing rates of chronicity and a growing population,” he said.
The VHA backed the prominent display of concession carpark rates.
Hospitals must also review their carpark fees and policy every year as part of the government push to ease financial stress on regular patients and visitors.
Peninsula Health said it reviews its policy each year.