Hospital trusts across England have raked in millions of pounds in car parking charges levied on staff, patients and visitors alike.
Scores of NHS trusts raked in more than £1m on parking charges, with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust among the worst offenders – in the last year, the trust charged patients and visitors more than £4m, while staff were also hit with about £1.8m in car parking charges.
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust also levied sky-high parking charges on staff, patients and their visitors, totalling an astonishing £6.3m in 2018/19, while University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust charged patients and visitors £3.6m and staff £2.2m over the course of the year.
Overall, NHS hospitals in England received more than £185m from patients and visitors in car parking charges over the last year, with hospitals squeezing staff to the tune of £86.2m over the same period. After the cost of parking services was taken into account, NHS car parks made a profit of just over £200m.
Last year, the Labour Party reiterated its commitment to ending car parking charges after it came to light that nearly half of the 124 NHS trusts which responded to freedom of information requests said they had hiked car parking charges in the last year.
When the party first announced its policy, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called hospital parking charges a “a tax on serious illnesses”.
He said that while hospitals are struggling from under-funding at the hands of the Conservative government, he noted “the gap should not be filled by charging sick patients, anxious relatives and already hard-pressed NHS staff for an essential service”.
Commenting on the latest figures, Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said, “This is a running sore of a national scandal which exploits dedicated NHS staff , and often distressed patients and visitors as captive milch cows.
“Income from parking charges has leapt by 24 per cent in the last year while NHS workers have endured a decade of below inflation pay awards from Tory ministers which underlines the glaring unfairness of the present situation.”