Hospital parking charges U-turn?

Health bosses this week denied making a U-turn saying they never intended to scrap free parking at at Exmouth Hospital and Claremont Grove Medical Centre.

Health bosses this week denied making a U-turn - saying they never intended to scrap free parking at at Exmouth Hospital and Claremont Grove Medical Centre.Following a major outcry about possible charges, the Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT) this week told the Journal the public had misunderstood its pay-to-park plans.However, the PCT last month told the Journal a pay-and-display system for ALL of Devon's community hospitals, including Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth, was under discussion.Abuse of hospital car parks and promoting 'greener methods' of travel were the reasons the PCT gave when asked to explain its decision to charge for parking.And, until recently, the PCT's website said the following about hospital parking charges: "In the coming months, a pay and display system will be introduced at the remaining community hospitals managed by Devon Primary Care Trust."This week, healthcare bosses said the trust's aim had been to 'involve and consult' the public over proposals before making a decision.The PCT said it never planned to implement any charge at Exmouth's hospital.The trust blamed its website for publishing incorrect information relating to hospital car park charges being rolled out across the region.However, while Exmouth and Budleigh have 'escaped' the fees, patients and visitors parking at hospitals in Honiton and Whipton, Exeter, still face being charged - because this week the PCT admitted it was still 'looking' at imposing a levy on them. Exmouth deputy mayor Daryll Nicholas said: "If you have to pay to park, the NHS is not free at the point of delivery."Patients, those visiting people in hospital, or using the medical centre, should not be made to pay to park. It's unfair."News that charges were not going to be introduced at Exmouth's hospital broke at the end of last week. Pat McDonagh, PCT assistant business support director, told the district council that imposing charges at certain small sites "just isn't do-able".


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