NHS hospital parking costs soar 5%

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NHS hospital visitors and staff paid out at least £18m in parking fees across the region last year.

New figures show that hospital trusts in England collectively raised more money than ever before - over £120m - from people using their car parks.

Patients in England spent five per cent more on parking last year compared to the year before.

Hospital parking remains largely free in Wales and Scotland and campaigners want the Government to either cap or scrap the fees in England too.

Almost half of all England’s NHS hospitals even charge disabled visitors for parking in some or all of their disabled spaces.

Of 120 NHS trusts across England who were asked to give figures on parking charges and fines under the Freedom of Information Act, 89 responded. Across our region, 11 trusts revealed they had raised a total of more than £17.8m from routine parking charges last year.

Seven local trusts provided parking fine income which showed some £131,280 was paid in fines.

In England as a whole, 27 NHS trusts detailed their income from parking fines last year - adding up to £635,387.

The most money from fines was made by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust - £78,595 last year and £424,585 over four years.

Added to parking charges, visitors paid parking fees of nearly £1.8m to the Trust last year.

The Leeds trust is one of the largest in England, treating around 1.5m patients per year and it offers free parking permits to cancer patients, people with critically ill family members and parents of children who stay overnight.

A Trust spokesperson said the number of hospital sites it operates and the proximity of Leeds General Infirmary to the city centre were partly why its parking income was so high.

The spokesperson said: “Overall the Trust has over 5,000 car parking spaces across six hospital sites, including two multi-storey car parks. We have over 1.6 million vehicles on site each year and these figures about the volume of parking charge notices we issue should be seen in that context.

“As a Trust we recognise that visiting hospital can be a stressful time. We strive to ensure the experience of each and every patient visiting our sites is as safe and positive as it possibly can be.

“It is important that we effectively monitor our car parks to ensure that spaces remain available for patients, visitors and staff, not those wishing to park for other reasons. People who misuse our car parks will be dealt with just as they would, for example, in a local authority-owned facility.”

The spokesperson added: “Leeds General Infirmary in particular is in a city centre location where all parking space is at a premium. This makes the car parks very attractive to non-hospital users, and over half of our annual penalty charge notices are issued on this one site.

“The Trust does not believe that the funding we receive for patients’ care should subsidise the cost of providing and maintaining car parks. As well as providing and maintaining the car parks, including paying rates and other charges on them, we also have to provide security patrols and cameras to keep them safe as well as traffic officers to keep cars moving and prevent people parking inappropriately.”

Parking fines paid to other trusts last year included £13,000 to Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and £12,780 to Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.

In Yorkshire, the most raised from parking charges was some £2.8m by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is the second largest trust in the UK.