Hospital parking can be expensive at the best of times so it’s no wonder the amount being raked in each year is hefty – but just how hefty are we talking?
NHS Foundation Trust hospitals made a total of £344 million from parking in three years, according to a Freedom of Information request made by motoring publication Auto Express, with each trust making an average of £949,000 a year.
It also found trusts issued 275,000 fines to patients and visitors since 2013, adding another £2.8 million to the pot, which works out at an average income of £8,200 from each trust.
Topping the list was the Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which earned £10.3 million since 2013, followed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which made £10,333,980.
The amount charged for parking was found to vary greatly, with some of the cheapest costing 60p to park the car ranging up to £3.50.
The Department for Health pointed out over half of hospital car parks are free to use, but Auto Express found this was only for 30 minutes – not nearly long enough for the average visit unless dropping someone off. Just four trusts in England offered entirely free parking.
To make matters worse, 14 per cent of trusts charge Blue Badge holders, long-term and terminally ill patients for the privilege. The Patients Association chief executive described as “a tax on the ill” and said it added “further stress” to hospital-goers.
All but three hospitals in Scotland still charge for parking and Wales is similarly against charging patients. Despite this, the move to scrap hospital fees in England was blocked by Parliament.
A British Parking Association spokesperson argued parking fees were necessary: “Free parking at hospitals in Wales and Scotland has actually made the situation worse. If the users don’t pay for the parking then the trust does.”
Although expensive and potentially unfair, hospitals do at least use that money to perform car park maintenance and the rest is said to be used for patient care. With the NHS already under significant strain, financially and physically, perhaps it’s best we overlook a few quid here and there?