Trust receives healthy £1.6m from a year of parking at hospitals
Patients, visitors and staff subsidise ‘provision, maintenance, improvement and safety in car parks’ as trusts cash in nationwide
NHS hospitals in Bucks have made more than £1.6 million from parking charges in a single year.
The data, collected through Freedom of Information requests, revealed that hospitals throughout the country racked up around £160m from charges in 2015/16 –a 5% increase on the previous year.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which netted £1,610,490, runs Wycombe, Stoke Mandeville, Amersham, Marlow, Chalfonts and Gerrards Cross, Thame, Buckingham and Waterside community hospitals.
Some 120 NHS trusts were contacted regarding their parking income with 89 responding and, according to the Mirror, if all 120 had answered the total figure would be around £160m.
The data also reveals almost half of all NHS trusts charge disabled people for parking in some or all disabled spaces.
Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust topped the table when it came to parking income, making £4,841,108 over the year. Patients and visitors paid £3,465,357, and a further £1,375,751 was made from staff.
Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust raised £1,641,232 in 2015/16. In total, £1,341,844 was coughed up by patients and visitors, while staff paid £299,388.
The overall Bucks figure includes both staff and patients/visitors.
Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association charity, said the ‘sick and vulnerable’ were shouldering the charges to combat NHS underfunding.
She maintained parking charges should not be used like this, saying they were a burden on the sick, and she called for the scrapping of car parking fees, adding it ‘makes patients question the values of the people leading the organisation’.
A spokesman for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “As with any organisation based in or near large town centres, ensuring we provide sufficient parking for staff, patients and hospital visitors is always a delicate balancing act.
“We make every effort to ensure charges remain reasonable, fair and competitive with those of nearby car park facilities, and in line with national guidance.
“The income received from parking fees is re-invested directly into the provision, mainte- nance, improvement and safety of our car parks.
“We have a range of concessions for patients and visitors. These include 20-minute dropoff bays, free parking for blue badge holders and there are reductions available for patients and visitors who need to visit the hospital on a regular basis.
“Free transport is also provided to patients who require it.”
Paying to park: Amersham Hospital (above) and Stoke Mandeville Hospital (inset) are run by Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust