HOSPITAL car park charges are a contentious issue.

Anybody who has had to visit a ticket-controlled hospital car park on a regular basis will know that the costs soon add up.

According to latest figures, hospitals have made record amounts through charging motorists in the last financial year.

And whilst nobody would begrudge the NHS an extra few million pounds, questions can be raised over whether charging visitors, patients and staff to use hospital car parks is an appropriate way of raising funds.

At the present time, half of all hospitals in England have implemented charges, and many have now applied costs to disabled blue badge holders too.

But it is a sad fact that all visitors to hospital, excluding staff, are there because of an illness, whether in themselves or a loved one they are visiting.

It is a stressful time and that can only be compounded by receiving a parking fine because an appointment ran over or a poorly relative was in need.

The waste and excesses in the NHS have been well documented.

Just a few months ago it emerged that some Trusts were paying temporary managers in the region of £400,000 a year.

And there have been numerous critical reports over whether the health service is always getting the best deal for drugs and services.

Set against that backdrop it is perhaps difficult to justify fining a distressed visitor or patient because their car spent ten minutes longer in a parking bay than it should have.