Cancer patients face £12.50 ULEZ fee to visit 35 hospitals

Cancer patients face £12.50 ULEZ fee to see the doctor: Two cameras are put up 100 yards from the Royal Marsden Hospital on the edge of zone – then TFL reimburses them with taxpayers’ cash

  • EXCLUSIVE: Royal Marsden is one of the 35 hospitals within the expanded zone
  • Newly installed camera is likely to hit pensioners driving older vehicles

Cancer patients being treated at a world-leading hospital are facing ‘a red tape nightmare’ after being targeted by Sadiq Khan’s hated ULEZ scheme.

Families branded the London Mayor ‘cruel and heartless’ after a camera was installed just 100 yards from the entrance of the pioneering Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, Surrey.

Parents of children receiving life-saving care at the hospital say the despised scheme is leaving them engulfed in ‘a tidal wave’ of bureaucracy at an already stressful time.

Families whose vehicles fall foul of the scheme say they are having to fork out £12.50 to pay the daily charge – then have to ‘jump through hoops’ to claim the money back.

It comes as the anti-car measure is facing a growing backlash with families claiming it is being used as a way of ‘extorting’ money out of motorists.

Patients now face a ‘red tape nightmare’ to go to the doctor after a ULEZ camera was installed within 100 yards from a hospital

To reclaim the £12.50 ULEZ fee, patients need to go through a multi-step process to get a reimbursement from the hospital who then claim the money back from TfL

And with the Government propping up the capital’s transport system to the tune of £1 billion-a-year, campaigners say it’s taxpayers who are left helping to foot the bill.

A spokesman for the Taxpayer’s Alliance said: ‘As well as making cash cows of motorists, ULEZ is yet another complication to our labyrinthine tax system.’

The Royal Marsden is one of 35 hospitals which now fall into the expanded Ultra Low Emissions Zone.

And the MailOnline can reveal thousands of patients will be left out of pocket because not all hospitals are processing every claim.

Critics say ‘the elderly and vulnerable’ are among poorer people most likely to be hit by crippling charges.

Transport for London (Tfl) has agreed to refund eligible patients who arrive for appointments in cars that fail to meet their emissions standards.

But the way the complex scheme has been set up means patients must claim the levy back from the NHS before the money is refunded to hospitals by TfL.

Some hospital trusts will only pay refunds to patients who have a TfL account set up to make payments automatically – leaving others out of pocket.

A total of 35 hospitals now fall within the expanded Ultra Low Emissions Zone

It means pensioners, who are more likely to run older cars on their fixed incomes and may have limited access to technology, are most likely to miss out.

One hospital source said: ‘It’s a lottery as to whether you get your money back or not.

‘The way it is set up, it’s easy for TfL to take your cash but claiming it back is another matter.

‘The onus is on patients and NHS organisations, already facing a tidal wave of red tape, to sort it out between them.’

Under the reimbursement scheme, patients who are too ill, weak or disabled to travel on public transport can apply for a refund.

Those with compromised immune systems are also eligible along with patients who need regular therapy or assessments and others who require recurrent surgical intervention.

The Royal Marsden – which has another site within the ULEZ zone in Chelsea, West London – treats 60,000 patients every year.

Under the system, patients who can prove they have a ULEZ charge receipt must fill in a claim form when they arrive in the department for their appointment.

They need to ask their doctor or clinician to complete the paperwork then take their documents to the cashier’s office in the hope that it is open after their appointment has ended.

Hospital staff and visitors are not eligible for a refund and families, who have to pay expensive car park charges, say they are being unfairly forced to reach into their pockets to comfort loved ones.

Arin Ghosh travels to the hospital from his home in Kent every day so his daughter can receive chemotherapy.

He described claiming back the daily charge as a ‘bureaucratic burden’ saying the process was ‘unclear, confusing and lengthy’.

He said the fee was ‘the last thing you should have to think about when attending critical appointments and caring for an unwell child’.

Under TfL’s reimbursement scheme, patients who are too weak, ill or disabled to use public transport can claim a refund

David Millerick, who was visiting his granddaughter at the hospital, told MailOnline: ‘It makes me sick to my stomach that this is happening to people when they are already very fragile.

‘Anyone who is having lifesaving cancer treatment does not need to have to wade through loads of paperwork just to come here. It is a sickening ploy to get more money.

‘The scheme should be scrapped immediately as it’s basically demanding money with menaces.’

Mr Millerick, from Oxted, Surrey, said he had to borrow a friend’s petrol car as his diesel vehicle would have fallen foul of the ULEZ rules.

He said: ‘This just makes it more inconvenient for everyone. Why should someone coming to visit a sick granddaughter have to pay for the privilege.

‘If I want to come every day I either have to borrow a car or pay the £12.50.

‘Every car does an MoT test where it only passes if it meets an emission test set by the Department for Transport. That means the car is roadworthy, but Khan has set a new barrier that has to be met.

‘It is scandalous that he has been allowed to do this and just as bad that the Government has not stepped in to stop it.’

Nicola Riley, who had arrived at the hospital from her home in Chislehurst in southeast London, said: ‘When you are coming here for treatment the last thing you are thinking about is filling out some form to get the £12.50 back.

‘There is no way that patients should have to be doing that. It is just silly bureaucracy and not something anyone with cancer should have to do.

‘Everyone I talk to agrees that the ULEZ scheme is just a way for Mayor Khan to make money and has nothing really to do with air pollution.’

Tessa Holme, who takes her stepdaughter Isla-Rose for regular cancer treatment at the hospital said she was worried she would forget to pay the charge due to the stress involved in caring for a sick child.

Tessa, who lives in Sussex, said:‘Remembering to do a Ulez fee at the end of that is really not up there on your list.’I can’t see a reason why they can’t make this easier.’

Another mother told how she is not eligible for a refund when she takes her son for annual check-ups at the hospital after he had been given the ‘all clear’.

She said: ‘It’s not so much about the money, it’s the fact that parents are already suffering so much if their child has cancer and thinking about paying a charge is an additional burden.’

Another patient, who asked not to be named, said:’ I have been coming here for three months and the camera is placed on a road that is mostly used by people coming to the hospital.

‘The people who put that up would have realised that, but it just shows this is a money-making scheme and nothing more.’

The newly installed camera on Downs Road, Sutton will likely hit pensioners on fixed incomes who are more likely to have older cars and less access to technology

The hospital’s car park is right on the border of the new charging zone and the ULEZ camera has been erected next to the hospital’s entrance.Last month the camera was disabled but was quickly re-installed.

Minister for London Paul Scully who is the local MP, has called for the ULEZ scheme to be scrapped but suggested that moving the camera or the boundary by just 100 yards would resolve the problem.

The 35 main hospitals in the expanded Ulez zone 

Barnet Hospital, Barnet

Central Middlesex hospital, park royal

Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham

Chelsea and Westminster , Chelsea

Croydon Hospital, Thornton Heath

Chase Farm, Enfield

Ealing Hospital, Ealing

Finchley, Hospital, Finchley

Guy’s Hospital, Southwark

Great Ormond Street, Marylebone

Hammersmith Hospital, Hammersmith

Harefield Hospital, Harfield

Hillingdon Hospital, Hillingdon

Kings College, Dulwich

Kingston Hospital, Kingston upon Thames

Mount Vernon Northwood

Northwick Park, Harrow

Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, Hammersmith

Queen Mary, Sidcup

Queen Elizabeth, Woolwich

Orpington, Orpington

Royal Free, Hampstead

Royal Marsden, Chelsea

Marsden, Sutton

Moorfield’s, City of London

Mile End, Mile End

St Barts, City of London

St George’s, Tooting

St Helier, Sutton

St Thomas’s, Waterloo

Teddington Hospital, Teddington

University College, Camden

University Hospital, Lewisham

West Middlesex, Isleworth

Whipps Cross, Leytonstone

Patients must pay the £12.50 fee if their car is not compliant with the emission standard.

They are told to inform staff when checking in for an appointment that they have paid

Staff hand a form to fill in, and if eligible a doctor will confirm they qualify for reimbursement. The hospital reimburses the patient, and the relevant NHS Trust claims the money back from TfL.

Last week he wrote to the London mayor saying: ‘My constituents and I in Sutton are appalled that this camera is still operational with the express intention of catching motorists venturing little more than a hundred metres into the ULEZ boundary to visit their loved ones, receive treatment or attend their place of work.

‘I therefore implore you to reconsider your stance on this particular camera.‘It is currently serving as a prominent lightning rod towards those who are willing to take the law into their own hands and its removal is the best outcome for all concerned.’

The letter came after the Mayor’s office advised that TfL work with boroughs on ULEZ camera locations ‘where necessary’ and continue to review locations.ULEZ was launched by Sadiq Khan in April 2019, covering the same area as the existing London congestion zone.

After a massive expansion on August 29 it is now 18 times bigger covering all London boroughs.Many hospitals have responded by publishing helpful information on websites explaining how cash-strapped patients can apply for refunds.

Others are still formulating plans while Kingston Hospital in south west London is among trusts who say they are not able to process all claims.Its website says: ‘At this time the Trust is only able to refund payments that have been made through the TfL Auto Pay account.’

It means that if patients paid the charge via the Transport for London website, the Pay to Drive in London app or by phone they will not be reimbursed.

A spokesman for Kingston Hospital said: ‘As a relatively small hospital we can only sustain limited opening hours of our cash office.

‘We therefore encourage reimbursement through TfL’s online system for those who are able to access and make use of it.

‘For patients, or their carers who tell us that TfL’s online reimbursement system is challenging for them to manage, we can signpost them to support within our hospital.’

A spokesman for TfL said: ’We’re sorry to hear of anyone finding the process around NHS exemptions difficult.

‘The exemptions are in place to help people at difficult times, and we’re doing everything possible to help and to make the process easier.

‘We would encourage any families affected, who are finding the process difficult, to contact us and we will offer support to make sure that things are made as easy for them as possible.’

Tfl do not have an estimate of how much it is likely to cost to reimburse hospital patients across Greater London.

They are expecting to raise as much as £200 million in fines a year on top of the £224 million raised by the scheme before the expansion.

Opponents of the scheme say the money is being used to bail out TfL which has debts of over £7 billion while Sadiq Khan says the money will be reinvested into the transport infrastructure.

But it comes as the majority of the capital’s councils have this year raised council tax by the maximum of 4.99 per and motorists already face a slew of road taxes including fuel duty, vehicle excise duty and congestion charges.

And campaigners insist the cash back scheme will see every taxpayer in the country paying for Ulez.

The Action Against Ulez Extension group, which boasts over 40,000 members, said: ‘If Mayor Khan is going to pay the Ulez fee for hospital patients it has to come from somewhere.

‘It means he is already paying out money from funds that he has been given and that’s from the taxpayer.’

Eligible hospital patients must pay the £12.50 fee on the day of travel if their car is not compliant and enters the ULEZ zone.

On checking in for their appointment they are given a form to fill out which must be signed by their consultant or member of staff. Only those patients who are unable to use public transport are eligible, although all cancer patient at the Royal Marsden qualify.

The Royal Marsden – which has another site within the ULEZ zone in Chelsea, West London – treats 60,000 patients every year.

The completed form is presented to a hospital cashier’s office and once proof of payment of the £12.50 established the fee is immediately reimbursed.

Alternatively, the £12.50 can be credited to their bank account.

It’s unclear how long the processing will take.

The NHS Trust will be reimbursed by Transport for London.

A spokesman for Tfl said between April 22 and March 23 they reimbursed £22,375 for NHS patients.

This applied to the existing Ulez zone in central London and not the expanded zone to now include Greater London.

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