Desperately ill patients must fork out hundreds of pounds to attend hospital after exemption parking permits were scrapped.
Dialysis patient Jim Aherne has to find more than £400 a year to attend for life-saving treatment at least three times a week at Royal Preston Hospital, Lancs.
The car park has been taken over by private firm Parking Eye and has started charging cancer sufferers and families of seriously ill children.
It comes after the Mirror launched a campaign to end NHS hospital parking charges, which have been dubbed a “tax on sickness”.
Pensioner Jim, 68, has organ failure after developing kidney disease. The former care home worker said of the firm’s move: “It’s diabolical.”
He added: “We’ve had a permit for 10 years. There was no warning – last week they dropped a form on my lap while I was having treatment.”
Previously, visitors or carers of long-stay patients in Royal Preston for more than 14 days could park for free, as could parents of seriously ill children. Cancer patients and those suffering with organ failure also got an exemption permit.
These permits have been scrapped and a “concessions” rate of £2.50 per visit rolled out.
Even this is strictly only available to certain groups who parked for free, including visitors of the “gravely ill”.
Patients who do not qualify for the concessions are made to pay the standard rates.
This is £2.50 for an hour and up to £10 for more than eight hours.
Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Although there will be no exemptions, this new concessions policy means a much more equitable approach for people regularly attending or visiting for long periods.
“It means a number of people who previously had to pay full parking charges will now be eligible to pay the minimum daily charge of £2.50.
“We believe the cost of providing secure car parks should not be taken from budgets intended for care.”
A Parking Eye spokesman said: “We’ve made significant investment into NHS Lancashire sites… to help all people have hassle-free parking.”
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