Patients, visitors, staff and even disabled visitors are charged for parking at hospitals across the UK
Revenue from hospital car parking charges has risen by 5% over the last 12 months – NHS Trust hospitals throughout England made over £120 million from charging patients, visitors and staff to park in the last year alone, despite previous promises by the Health Secretary of a clamp down on “unfair” parking charges.
The new data has been collected and released by the Press Association, who also claim that more than half of UK hospitals are still charging disabled visitors, despite advice given by the Department of Health.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, pledged two years ago that there would be a clamp down on “unfair” hospital car parking charges, stating that charges added to what could already be a stressful time.
Despite these words however, NHS trusts over the financial year 2015/16 accrued £120,662,650 in car park charges, compared to £114,873,867 the previous year.
Parking fine data was also gathered from 27 trusts and over a four year period they made £2,300,208 on fines – an alarming £635,387 was made in 2015/16 from fines handed out to patients, staff and visitors who parked on hospital car parks.
Chief executive of the Patients Association, Katherine Murphy, said how unfair it was that patients in England still had to pay, whilst parking in Scotland and Wales was generally free.
She argued that charging for hospital car parks was simply a way of topping up the NHS funds at the expense of the sick and this was wrong.
She believes that hospital car parking fees ought to be capped, or scrapped altogether.
Top of the highest earners was the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, who made £4,841,108 over the last twelve months, of which £3,465,357 was from patients & visitors and the rest collected from staff – £1,375,751. The trust also collected nearly £40,000 in fines.
Over half of the trusts who replied to the Freedom of Information (FOI) request are generating over £1m every year in car parking fees, some of which is handed out to private firms.
Despite the shocking revelations, many trusts in the UK continue to defend the earnings gained from car park charges, claiming that all or some of the money goes back into patient care, or pays for car park and outdoor maintenance.
Campaigns manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, Rosie Downes, said: “The last thing that somebody going through cancer treatment should be doing is worrying about whether there is enough money in the parking meter.”
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