Major new steps towards addressing hospital car parking fees for parents with babies in neonatal care have just been made. Tackling these charges is one of the key aims of our It’s not a game campaign and we are delighted that our, and our campaigners' hard work has contributed to getting new Government guidance and a debate to take place in parliament.
Firstly, on Saturday 23 August, the Government issued guidance to NHS organisations which states that hospital car parking charges should be made free or reduced for certain groups. This includes those who are ‘visiting relatives who have an extended stay in hospital’ or are ‘visiting relatives who are gravely ill.’
We welcome the new guidance and hope it will help us reinforce to hospital trusts the importance of offering free or reduced parking for parents with a baby in neonatal care.
Following the release of the guidance, Jackie Doyle-Price MP brought a debate on the issue to the House of Commons on Monday 1 September, emphasising Bliss research showing parents with a baby in neonatal care pay an average of £32 a week just on parking. Robert Halfon MP also spoke of our campaign and how these costs affect the ability of parents to spend invaluable time with their baby in hospital. The ‘treble whammy’ of travel, parking and accommodation costs which parents face while their baby is in neonatal care was also highlighted by MPs.
MPs speaking in the debate also urged hospitals to simplify the process of accessing free parking or reduced permits. This is something we particularly support, as our research found many parents were not accessing the support which was already offered. This was usually because they were not told about the schemes or because they found it too difficult and stressful to work out how to get them.
We are delighted by these recent campaign developments, and what they could mean for parents. Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign so far by talking about it on social media, and tweeting or emailing your local MP.
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