Parking Costs—A Family Affair

To the Editor We read with interest the Research Letter by Lee and colleagues documenting the substantial parking costs borne by patients with cancer to receive treatment. We fully agree that this is an underappreciated area that can have a notable effect on the financial and emotional well-being of patients. We wish to bring attention to the fact that parking costs also exist and affect patients in many countries outside of the US. Secondly, these charges do not just affect patients themselves, but also their families. This is especially true if patients are hospitalized (eg, for surgery). Visiting relatives in the hospital precipitates parking expenses for visitors, which can be substantial depending on the length of time visiting as well as the duration of the patient’s in-hospital stay. To provide a rough estimate of what these costs could be, we looked at data from the UK. The UK National Health Service publishes data on parking fees charged by UK hospitals. Of 254 general acute hospitals in England, 230 (90.6%) charge visitors for parking. Looking at one of the more expensive hospitals (to provide an upper bound for costs), the parking tariff is £12 (US $15.64) for 4 hours or £24 (US $31.28) for 8 hours. Data on the average number of days spent in hospital in the first year since diagnosis for patients with colorectal cancer in the UK were available from Laudicella et al. Length of time spent in hospital varied by disease stage and patient age, but the highest value was approximately 20 days. Putting these together yields a potential parking cost of £240 to £480 (US $312.85 to $625.69) for visiting a family member with colorectal cancer in their first year of diagnosis. While this may not truly reflect visiting behavior, and indeed many hospitals may charge less than the figures we have used, it nevertheless further highlights the considerable economic burden placed on patients and their families just for parking.

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