RELATIVES of chronically ill patients at a Southampton hospital must be given free or cheap on-site parking under new rules announced by the Government.
Patients with disabilities and those with frequent appointments as well as staff working shifts will also benefit from the shake-up, according to Jeremy Hunt.
The Health Secretary said new guidelines for English hospitals had been drawn up to put an end to the stress of ''unfair'' charges.
Trusts should waive fines when an overstay is beyond the control of the driver, such as treatment taking longer than planned, under the reforms.
It is understood Southampton General Hospital raked in more than £3m in charges in 2013, one of the highest sums in the country.
There are 10 trusts in England that make more than £2m a year from parking while 36 more bring in more than £1m.
Charges at the General start at £2 for one hour and go up to £14 for between 12 and 24 hours.
There is also the option for long stay parking starting at £18 for seven days ranging to £48 for 30 days.
Mr Hunt last month admitted he had concerns about the fees being charged to park at some hospitals after being pressed by Conservative backbenchers to put an end to the ''rip-off'' costs.
The guidance sets out for the first time that hospital trusts are responsible for the actions of any privately contracted firms they use to run their car parking operations.
It also calls on hospitals should also look at introducing pay on exit systems so that they only pay for the time they have used.
Mr Hunt said: ''Patients and families shouldn't have to deal with the added stress of unfair parking charges.
''These clear ground rules set out our expectations, and will help the public hold the NHS to account for unfair charges or practices.''