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Record £174.5m from NHS car park charges 'a tax on sick'

Hospital car parking charges have risen substantially in the past year (Chris Radburn/PA Images)

NHS hospitals have been accused of “taxing the sick” after it was revealed they made a record £174 million from car park charges.

Research shows hospitals across England raked in £174,526,970 in charging visitors, staff and patients to park in 2016/17.

That’s a 6% increase on the year before, when hospitals took in £164,162,458. Hospital car parking in Wales and Scotland remains largely free.

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The data was obtained using the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, with some 120 NHS trusts across England asked to give figures on parking charges and fines. Of those, 111 responded.

Half of NHS trusts also charge disabled people for parking in some or all of their disabled spaces, with more trusts now saying they charge disabled visitors compared to last year.

The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust came out top when it came to income from parking, making £4,865,000 across the year.

Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, which raised £3,946,312 in 2016/17, came in second.

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Other trusts making more than £3 million in 2016/17 included:

  • Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (£3,918,587);
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (£3,620,368);
  • Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (£3,073,222);
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (£3,706,845).
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (£3,228,301)
  • University Hospital Southampton (£3,730,000)
The hefty car park charges have been described as a ‘tax on the sick’ (Getty Images)

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “The vast sums of money that hospitals are making from parking charges reveal the hidden cost of healthcare faced by many patients and their families.

“Hospital car park charges amount to a tax on sickness, with people who are chronically ill or disabled bearing the brunt.”

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About two-thirds of trusts that responded to the FOI from the Press Association are making more than £1 million in car park fees every year.

Many of the car parks are run or monitored by private firms, which are paid substantial fees to do so.

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the charges were unacceptable: “For patients, parking charges amount to an extra charge for being ill.

“The increase in the number of trusts who are charging for disabled parking is particularly concerning.”

However, she added that it was sometimes hard to point the finger at hospitals for trying to make money this way, given the the current state of NHS finances.

Most expensive one-hour stays:

  • Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford – £4
  • Hereford County Hospital – £3.50
  • Bristol Royal Infirmary – £3.40
  • Northampton General – £3.20
  • St Thomas’ Hospital, London – £3.20
  • Southend University Hospital – £3.10
  • Royal Free, London – £3
  • Basildon Hospital, Essex – £3
  • Whittington Hospital, London (after 5pm) – £3
  • Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, London – £3
  • Aintree University Hospital – £3
  • Luton and Dunstable – £3
  • Mid Cheshire Hospitals – £3
  • Mid Essex – £3
  • University Hospital of South Manchester – £3
  • St James’s, Leeds – £2.90