DUDLEY’S MP, Ian Austin, has called on the chief executive of Russells Hall Hospital to scrap its plans to increase parking charges and reduce the canteen opening hours.

In a letter to Paula Clark, Mr Austin warns the proposed cutbacks to save Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust £15 million will hit patients visiting sick relatives and the levels of opposition from patients and staff should make them reconsider. Under the plans the hospital’s only canteen will shut from 2.30pm each day and not open at all at weekends.

While visitors and patients will have to fork out £2 to park for up to an hour (up from £1.30), £3 for up to one-and-a-half hours (previously £1.90), £4 for one-and-a-half hours to three hours (up from £3.20) and £5.50 for all day (up from £5.40).

A free 30-minute drop-off window is also being scrapped and replaced with a £1 charge. Instead motorists will have just ten-minutes of free parking/waiting time.

Ian Austin MP said: “Where are staff, working flat out on twelve hour shifts supposed to eat? And where will visitors go to get a warm meal? The hospital can’t suggest that vending machines are an acceptable alternative.

“People are also understandably very angry at the increase in parking charges.

“I hope the hospital bosses see sense and drop these plans.”