Beyond the Meter: Exploring Hospital Parking Costs in Europe

Healthcare Access: Parking Fee Dilemma. Image: Shutterstock/doublelee

HOSPITAL parking fees have long been a contentious issue across Europe, the debate is ongoing about the ethical implications and practicalities of charging to access healthcare services. New figures have come to light recently in England which show hospital patients, visitors, and staff paid almost £200 million in car parking charges last year which have ignited the debate once more.

In this article, we will take a look at the cost of parking at public hospitals in Spain and across Europe, the impact these fees have on patients, visitors, and healthcare workers, and public perception and reaction to these fees.

The Impact of Hospital Parking Fees

For patients who require frequent visits or extended stays at hospitals, parking fees can accumulate into a substantial expense. The average cost per hour to park in a hospital car park in Spain is €3, similar to the UK. A daily rate can be around €25. Some patients, especially those with limited financial means, might choose to reduce or skip hospital visits as they just don’t have the money to pay for the parking costs. This could lead to delayed treatments or appointments, potentially impacting their health.

Visitors, such as family members or friends supporting patients, often bear the brunt of parking expenses. A recent survey carried out in Spain found the average cost per week for visitors spending a few hours per day at the hospital caring for a loved one is around €50. These costs add up causing financial strain but they can also create a sense of guilt for the patients who rely on their families’ assistance.

For healthcare workers who work irregular hours and so cannot depend on public transport this cost can be substantial as they usually work long shifts. This cost can impact their overall income, particularly for lower-paid staff members. Carmen, who worked at a hospital in Madrid, had no option but to park in the hospital car park and left her job to be a stay-at-home mum, she told me ‘As I was in an administrative position at the hospital I was not earning a great deal, it wasn’t worth my while to continue working. I needed to leave my child in childcare to work, between that and the cost of parking I was better off being a stay-at-home mother.’

Comparative Analysis: Hospital Parking Fees in Europe

In Spain, as I mentioned above, hospital parking fees typically range between €1- €3 per hour with a daily rate between €10-€25. In England, the prices range from £1 to £4 per hour, and daily rates vary between £8 to £20. France and the Netherlands charge a similar amount. Germany tends to be a bit lower by comparison. Prices can range from €0.50 to €2 per hour, with daily rates typically between €5 and €10. These figures are of course approximate and some hospitals and regions have special offers or a discounted bulk rate.

Some European countries have taken steps to provide free or significantly reduced parking fees at hospitals. Wales and Scotland have taken steps to eliminate hospital parking fees or provide free parking for patients and visitors and sometimes NHS staff. In Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway certain hospitals offer free parking or reduced fees for patients and visitors, although this is not a universal policy.

Public Perception and Reaction to Hospital Parking Fees

In the 343 public hospitals in Spain, private companies run the parking facilities. Across the board, people feel this service shouldn’t be run as a profit-driven business. Pedro from Murcia says ‘I am parking here as a necessity, I am not going to the cinema or shopping, I find it really expensive, it’s excessive.’

The political group in Spain Podemos recently included free parking at public hospitals in their political programme before the elections. María Marin the spokesperson for Podemos stated  Spain should ‘Re-municipalise these parking lots so they can be what they were always meant to be: a public and free service available to hospital workers, teachers, students on internships, patients, and their families.’ She described it as ‘an injustice’ that people should pay ‘a fortune’ to park at a hospital.

On the flip side where hospital parking is free people have criticised the security and the state of the parking facilities. Robberies and vandalism have been reported in some incidences. Some call for a nominal fee to guarantee the security of the vehicles and the upkeep of the parking facilities.

In the UK the NHS reportedly depends on the funds raised from parking fees and as their funding has once again been cut some can empathise. What do think, should hospital parking be free? What are the fees like in your area?

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!


    • Peter Dare

      28 December 2023 • 18:52

      I always have complained about charging for parking both here in the UK and in South Africa. It should always be free,

    • Gerry

      29 December 2023 • 17:07

      Los Arcos in Murcia have set price for the day and very reasonable

    Comments are closed.