A cancer charity has called for hospital car parking charges for regular patients to be scrapped, branding them a “tax on sickness”.

Airedale Hospital charges regular patients to use its car parks, but at a reduced rate.

Research by Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed more than half of cancer patients do not get free or discounted parking when they visit hospitals in England, despite Government guidance to do so.

Maureen Rutter, Macmillan director for Northern England, said: “When going to hospital to receive life-saving treatment, many vulnerable cancer patients are being burdened with this unavoidable cost.

“This is at a time when they should be focusing on their health and not worrying about money.

“Hospital parking is already free for cancer patients in Scotland and Northern Ireland and Wales is committed to providing free parking by 2011.

“It is morally wrong that people in England are still paying what amounts to a tax on sickness.”

A spokesman for Airedale NHS Trust, which runs Airedale Hospital, said: “A wide range of concessionary car parking charges are offered to patients and visitors, including offering a vastly reduced car parking rate to oncology patients, which equates to just over £2 per week.”