New research has revealed that NHS hospitals in England are raking in more money than ever before through car parking charges. The report, put together by news agency the Press Association, shows that hospitals in England made £120 million during 2015, which is up by five per cent on the previous year.
Many hospital trusts have immediately moved to defend the parking fees, saying the money went into frontline care, or to maintain car parks used by patients and their families. However, patients’ groups said it was not fair that people in Wales and Scotland did not have to pay to park at hospital, while over the border in England patients had to pay.
The Press Association requested the information under Freedom of Information legislation, with 89 out of 120 trusts reponding. The data revealed that £120,662,650 was collected in car parking charges during the 2015/16 financial year, which was up from £114,873,867 in the previous year.
Only 27 trusts answered a question about parking fines. However, just adding up those who answered showed that more than £2 million was collected in fines over four years, with drivers having been fined £635,000 this year alone, either for not getting a ticket, over staying their time or parking in the wrong place.
Parking for the disabled
More than half of trusts were making more than £1 million from car parking charges in a 12 month period. The research also found that nearly half of NHS trusts even charged disabled people for parking.
The latest figures come after parking charges were abolished in hospital car parks in Scotland and Wales eight years ago. However, fees are still charged in England and in Northern Ireland or where car parks are managed by private contractors.
Patients Association Katherine Murphy said it was shocking that hospitals were “taking money from the sick and vulnerable to top up NHS coffers”.