‘Rip-off ’ hospital parking charges top £250m
‘The car parks are so busy that from 16.30 until 17.30 it can take nearly one hour to leave the hospital’
HOSPITALS are charging patients’ relations more than £100 to visit, amid record charges of more than £250million a year, an investigation reveals.
One in three NHS trusts increased their prices in the past year, with overall charges rising by 10 per cent.
Campaigners criticised the “rip-off ” fees as a tax on being ill.
The investigation of 144 NHS trusts came alongside a survey of almost 8,000 patients and visitors who recently used hospital car parks.
One man told how a visit to see his sick wife had cost him £102.
The Tories have pledged to make parking free for those in greatest need, including the disabled, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working nights. Labour says it will scrap all charges.
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust received the most parking cash last year with £6.4million.
This was followed by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which earned £5.9million, and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, which made £5million.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust had the highest hourly rate, at £4 for 60 minutes.
In the survey of 7,883 recent users of hospital car parks, disabled patients told how they were fined for parking, even though they had not been able to find a space. Overall, 86 per cent of those polled said parking added to the stress of a hospital visit. One patient said: “The car parks are so busy that from 16.30 until 17.30 it can take nearly one hour to leave the hospital.”
Others described the charges as “a rip-off ”, “extortionate”, “astronomical” and “exorbitant”.
A doctor told of being fined for parking while taking a patient to a hospital.
The data, gathered from 144 NHS trusts, show that hospitals made £254,373,068 from charging for parking in 2018-19.
This included at least £143 million from patients and visitors and £65 million from staff. The record high is up almost 10 per cent from the £232million the year before.
Income from parking fines increased by 8 per cent in 2018-19. Just under half of trusts said their car parks were managed by a private company, with at least 23 of these private firms taking all the fines income. Half of trusts charged for disabled parking.
Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the charges were a tax on illness, adding: “We need to see a full funding settlement for the health and care system, and car parking charges abolished once it is in place.”
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Car parks are expensive to run for the trusts that own them.” She said abolishing charges could cost about £200 million per year, and trusts would have to find funding from elsewhere, which could “impact on patient care”.