LONDON: NHS hospitals made more than £120m from car park charges in the past year, according to new figures. The Press Association asked 120 NHS trusts across England to give figures on parking charges and fines – 89 provided responses. More than half of those trusts are making more than £1m in car park fees every year, with almost half of them even charging disabled people to park in disabled spaces. Overall totals are likely to be higher, however, as some of the largest trusts did not provide figures for the 2015-16 year. These include Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which made £3,728,000 in 2014-15 and Royal Surrey, which raked in £1,421,172 during the same year. Many trusts said that some or all of the money was put back into patient care or spent on maintaining car parks or grounds.
But some trusts are also handing money to private firms, such as London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, which made £968,170 in charges but a further £1,262,194 was kept by Apcoa under a private finance initiative contract. Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said it was unfair that parking was free at hospitals in Wales and Scotland but not those in England. She added: “The NHS is clearly underfunded but the onus on meeting the funding crisis should most certainly not be shouldered by the sick, injured and vulnerable.” Rosie Downes, campaigns manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Cancer can have a huge impact on someone’s finances and paying for hours of parking at hospital each week is a completely unacceptable expense at such a hard time. “Government guidance is very clear that cancer patients in England should not continue to pay unfair hospital parking charges. “Hospitals must start adopting these guidelines as a matter of urgency.”