HOSPITALS should be ‘ashamed’ to charge cancer patients car parking fees - says a man who spent more than £100 in two weeks.

Paul Gaunce, from West Bagborough, has hit out at parking bosses of Musgrove Park Hospital for charging patients who attend regular treatments - and blue badge holders.

He has compared the Taunton hospital’s charges with other hospitals in the South West, and hopes to spark change for people in similar circumstances.

Mr Gaunce’s wife has stage four cancer and regularly visits the Beacon Centre for treatment. Complications left her on the ward for nearly two weeks, bringing a sum of £110 in parking fees.

“I feel very strong these fees are very unfair, especially if you compare them to some other hospitals - not to mention free car parking in Wales,” Mr Gaunce said.

“I have been spending a great deal of time recently at Musgrove, costing me £110 to support her.

“She has also been to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, where you can get a weekly ticket for £30 no problem, and it’s free for blue badge holders, not like Musgrove.”

He has started a petition to urge the hospital to rethink its parking charges to more ‘reasonable’ costs.

Mr Gaunce added: “The more I research this matter the more incensed I am.

“They treat their cancer patients on chemotherapy, who have to go regularly, unlike all the other south-western hospitals.

“It is also unfair they charge blue badge holders and of course their charges are too high in comparison with other hospitals.

“I have written to Q-Park head office to say they should be ashamed to charge cancer patients.

“I am determined to get something done.”

His petition currently has more than 200 signatures.

Mr Gaunce says he has written letters to Musgrove’s chief executive, Peter Lewis, but hasn’t yet received a reply.

Simon Rigby, associate director of estates and facilities at Musgrove Park Hospital, said provisions are in place for visitors to the Beacon Centre, but admits Mr Gaunce and his wife should have been told and have since apologised.

He said: “Musgrove Park Hospital’s site simply does not have the space capacity to provide enough parking on site for all of our staff, patients and visitors.

“We always encourage and support our staff, patients and visitors to look at other alternatives such as using the park and ride scheme, car share, cycling or walking in and a drop-off facility where possible. When the hospital car parks are busy, usually midweek, we try to let people know through the local media and social media where possible.

“There are informal arrangements in place for patients who use the Beacon Centre and we have written to Mr Gaunce to apologise that he was not made aware of this.”

Musgrove Park Hospitals’ parking differs from some other hospitals as it has a contact with company Q-Park, which runs the multi-storey site. This means charges need to be in place to ensure the cost of the contract is covered.

Mr Rigby added: “The demand for parking on site from patients and visitors has always been high for the space we have available, which is why we entered into a contract with Q-Park to build our multi-storey Cedars car park. This has greatly improved our parking facilities on site; however it also does require us to charge for spaces for both staff and visitors to cover the cost of this investment and the day-to-day running of the car park.

“Any income generated from the car parking contract is used to pay the costs of providing parking and excess funds are put into clinical services.

“Maintaining our services to ensure we provide patients with high quality care, both now and in future, drives our decision making to deliver a safe and positive environment.”