Hospitals across Sussex have been issued new guidelines over car parking charges.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has set out recommendations following growing anger over how much patients, visitors and staff are being asked to pay.
Hospital bosses in the county said they were already meeting most of the suggestions put forward.
The Argus recently exclusively revealed the county's main hospitals were raking in almost £4million a year between them from car parking charges.
The guidelines suggest hospitals should give free or reduced parking to priority groups, including visitors with relatives who are gravely ill or have an extended stay in hospital, frequent outpatient users and staff working antisocial hours.
They also recommend trusts use ‘pay on exit’ schemes so those using hospital car parking only pay for the time they have used.
The guidance states trusts should waive fines when an overstay is out of the patient’s or visitor’s control - for example, when treatment takes longer than planned, or when staff are required to work beyond their scheduled shift.
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust says all public barrier controlled parking areas at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath are pay on exit.
Visitors can also have a fine waived through an appeals system.
Parking concessions include free parking for staff overnight during the week and at weekends and bank holidays.
Patients coming in for dialysis can park for free and cancer patients are given a discount.
Monthly permits are also offered for long term patients and visitors.
A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Conquest in St Leonards, said: “We offer discounts for those who need to attend on a regular basis and a range of concessions and exemptions to accommodate users such as for those on low income, cancer patients and their relatives, blue badge holders as well as the relatives of patients who are on the end of life care.”
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in Worthing, Shoreham and Chichester, also has discounts in place.
Facilities manager Mitch Thomas said: “We try to keep the costs of parking as low as possible.
“We also provide significant concessions for patients who are in hospital for a long period, and for specific groups – such as patients undergoing regular dialysis – we ensure that their parking is free.”
Patient groups have branded parking charges as a “tax on the sick” and want them scrapped altogether.
Health bosses say charges are needed to maintain spaces and stop people not using the hospital from parking there.
SUSSEX'S HOSPITALS PARKING CHARGES
Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton - £2.50 for two hours up to a maximum of £18 for 12 to 24 hours.
Princess Royal, Haywards Heath - £2 for two hours up to a maximum of £18 for 12 to 24 hours.
Worthing Hospital – £2.30 for two hours up to a maximum of £7.60 for 24 hours.
Southlands Hospital, Shoreham – £2.60 for two hours up to a maximum of £7.60 for 24 hours.
St Richard's Hospital, Chichester – £2.60 for two hours up to a maximum of £6 for 24 hours.
Eastbourne District General Hospital - £2.80 for two hours up to a maximum of £14.90 for 24 hours.
Conquest Hospital, St Leonards - £2.80 for two hours up to a maximum of £14.90 for 24 hours