A LEADING health organisation has called for parking to be made more expensive in order to get motorists out of their cars and onto their bikes.

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has suggested that "introducing restricted parking and higher charges" will achieve "greater levels of restraint on car usage".

The thinking behind the idea is that if people are walking or cycling instead of driving their cars, they will be fitter and healthier and place less strain on our over-stretched health service.The Government is already planning to increase fuel duty in January by another 3p per litre and this latest call is designed to "encourage people to walk or cycle as a form of transport".

NICE conceded that this advice should consider the impact increased parking charges would have on car owners living in areas where there is little real alternative to driving.

However, Dr John Lister of London Health Emergency has blasted the proposal. He told AOL Cars: ''Increasing car parking charges will make no difference to people's health and will just be another additional cost poor motorists have to stomach.''

He added: "If you look at hospitals, which are now being centralised in locations further away from cities, walking to them has become almost impossible. People are left with no choice other than to stomach outrageous car parking charges."

Hospital car parks in England are some of the most expensive, with London hospitals charging over £30 per day for parking, against £1.50 per day for those based in Liverpool. Hospitals in Wales provide free parking.

To make matters worse, these charges often never make their way into the NHS, as hospital car parks are largely maintained and regulated by private firms who pocket the profits.