Mil­lions raised from hos­pi­tal car park­ing

Char­ity ‘alarmed’ at amount trusts are charg­ing

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - by Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­

NHS hos­pi­tals in west Lon­don have racked up mil­lions of pounds worth of park­ing charges in a sin­gle year, in­clud­ing in Eal­ing, Chelsea & West­min­ster and Hilling­don.

The data was col­lected for hos­pi­tals across the coun­try through a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest and found that more than £160 mil­lion was made in 2015/16.

Chelsea & West­min­ster Hos­pi­tal NHS Foun­da­tion Trust was the west Lon­don ser­vice that raised the most money from mo­torists, with £1,822,579 in 12 months.

Hilling­don Hos­pi­tals NHS Foun­da­tion Trust was a close sec­ond with a large ma­jor­ity of the money be­ing paid by pa­tients and vis­i­tors.

Next in line was Lon­don North West Health­care NHS Trust, which runs hos­pi­tal and com­mu­nity ser­vices in Brent, Eal­ing and Har­row.

Kather­ine Mur­phy from the Pa­tients As­so­ci­a­tion, a char­ity which rep­re­sents pa­tients of health ser­vices, said: “The shock­ing re­al­ity about car park­ing charges is they are tak­ing money from the sick and vul­ner­a­ble to top up NHS cof­fers.

“This is not what park­ing charges should be used for.

“The NHS is clearly un­der­funded, but the onus on meet­ing the fund­ing cri­sis should not be shoul­dered by the sick, in­jured and vul­ner­a­ble.

“We are not talk­ing about in­signif­i­cant amounts of money ei­ther.

“It is alarm­ing that trusts think it is okay to charge peo­ple so much money for vis­it­ing a hos­pi­tal, as it makes pa­tients question the val­ues of the peo­ple lead­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“We take a very clear line that car park­ing fees need to be scrapped or strictly capped.”

Hilling­don Hos­pi­tals NHS Foun­da­tion Trust raised £1,641,232 in 2015/16, with £1,341,844 be­ing coughed up by pa­tients and vis­i­tors, while staff paid £299,388.

Lon­don North West Health­care NHS Trust made £968,170 over the course of the year, but a fur­ther £1,262,194 was kept by a man­age­ment com­pany un­der a pri­vate fi­nance ini­tia­tive ar­range­ment.

The fig­ures re­vealed 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 ta­bles when it came to park­ing in­come, mak­ing £4,841,108 over the year.

Pa­tients paid £3,465,357 and a fur­ther £1,375,751 came from staff.

Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quests were sent to 120 trusts in Eng­land, with 89 re­spond­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to The Mir­ror, if all 120 trusts had re­sponded the in­come rates would to­tal around £160m.

Ms Mur­phy said fines were a bur­den on the sick, adding: “It is not right that fines should be so heavy handed on sick and dis­abled pa­tients.”

A state­ment from Hilling­don Hos­pi­tals said: “The trust’s park­ing charges cover the costs of park­ing man­age­ment at both of its hos­pi­tals and any small sur­plus made is ploughed back into the trust.

“The trust com­plies fully with the Depart­ment of Health’s car park­ing man­age­ment guid­ance.

“We pro­vide a range of park­ing con­ces­sions in­clud­ing free park­ing for Blue Badge hold­ers, dis­counted weekly (£1.71 per day) and monthly (82p per day) park­ing per­mits, as well as re­duced cost park­ing for can­cer pa­tients (£1 a day) and par­ents of chil­dren with on­col­ogy needs.

“We also of­fer free, 20-minute drop-off points and free exit to pa­tients with can­celled ap­point­ments.”

Nigel My­hill, di­rec­tor of es­tates and fa­cil­i­ties at Lon­don North West Health­care, said: “It would be wrong to use money al­lo­cated for health­care ser­vices and pa­tient care to pay for the main­te­nance and up­keep of park­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“The tar­iffs are agreed with APCOA, the pri­vate com­pany that runs the carparks on our be­half, and are aligned to those of neigh­bour­ing hos­pi­tals.

“Any sur­plus made from park­ing charges goes back into the hos­pi­tal.

“We un­der­stand that park­ing charges are un­pop­u­lar and we of­fer a range of con­ces­sions to make it eas­ier for our pa­tients and vis­i­tors.

“In line with Depart­ment of Health guid­ance, dis­counted passes are avail­able for pa­tients and fam­i­lies who need to visit our hos­pi­tals reg­u­larly or for long pe­ri­ods. Three, five and seven day passes are avail­able, as are re­duc­tions for re­nal pa­tients.

“Free park­ing is avail­able for Blue Badge hold­ers and we will shortly be in­tro­duc­ing fur­ther con­ces­sions, which in­clude much re­duced park­ing rates for pa­tients re­ceiv­ing can­cer treat­ment at £1 per day.”

The Gazette has ap­proached Chelsea and West­min­ster trust for com­ment.

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