The People - - NEWS FEATURES & - By Stephen Hay­ward CON­SUMER COR­RE­SPON­DENT

CHARGES for vis­i­tor park­ing have been hiked at 86 hos­pi­tals, re­search by the Sun­day Peo­ple re­veals.

Cash-strapped sites have also scrapped free park­ing for dis­abled driv­ers and low-paid staff in the past year.

De­tails of the rip- off charges come as one of Bri­tain’s big­gest pri­vate park­ing firms, Park­ing Eye, toasted a 38 per cent jump in prof­its. The firm – which man­ages 900 car parks in­clud­ing 17 at hos­pi­tals – made £8.2mil­lion last year, up from £5.9mil­lion in 2015.

We found that of 472 hos­pi­tal trusts in Eng­land, 307 charge staff to park, up from 303 a year ago. Edg­ware Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal and Birm­ing­ham Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal are the prici­est at an av­er­age £2 per hour.

The num­ber of hos­pi­tal trusts charg­ing dis­abled driv­ers was up from 117 to 121 – and 303 charge the pub­lic for park­ing. Uni­son’s Sara Gor­ton said: “Cash-strapped NHS trusts are be­ing forced to charge pa­tients, rel­a­tives and staff small for­tunes to park be­cause bud­gets are so squeezed.”

“It can­not be right that pri­vate firms are mak­ing such huge prof­its from ex­ces­sive park­ing fees.”

Shadow health sec­re­tary Jonathan Ash­worth added: “It’s scan­dalous that pa­tients and staff are be­ing forced to foot the bill for the Tory health cri­sis.”

A spokesman for Park­ing Eye, which is owned by Capita, said: “Park­ing tar­iffs are set by NHS trusts.”

EX­PENSE: Edg­ware

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