- Car parking fees paid by staff soared by over eight-fold compared to last year
Hospital patients and their visitors were forced to pay £146 million for car parking last year as the total cost soared after falling during the pandemic.
Critics branded the charges a ‘tax on caring’ and accused ministers of failing to deliver on a Tory manifesto pledge to end the unfair fees.
Campaign groups also warned the ‘sky high’ prices could put people off seeking care or deprive them of the support they get from visitors.
NHS trusts’ gross income from patient and visitor parking was £145.8 million in 2022/23, NHS England figures show.
This was up 50 per cent from £96.7 million a year earlier, and triple the £47.9 million made from parking fees two years ago. Across last year, it was the equivalent of £400,000 being spent in hospital car parks every day.
Hospital patients and their visitors were made to fork out £146million in car parking charges (Stock Image)
Ministers were accused of failing to deliver on the Tory manifesto pledge to abolish unfair fees (Stock Image)
Pictured: A sign for the visitor car park at Darlington Memorial Hospital (Stock Image)
Campaigners also voiced concerns that high charges could deter patients from seeking care (Stock Image)
NHS Trust gross income from car parking was up 50 per cent on last year. Pictured: A visitor car park at Brookland Hospital in Dover, Kent (File Image)
Graphic shows the ten NHS trusts with the highest income from parking charges
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust reported the largest income from patient and visitor parking fees last year, at £5.2 million, followed by University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, with £3.6 million.
Meanwhile, car parking fees paid by hospital staff soared more than eight-fold nationally compared to the previous year, from £5.6 million in 2021/22 to £46.7 million in 2022/23.
The enormous jump is because of parking charges scrapped during the Covid-19 pandemic being reintroduced in March last year.
The figures cover parking fees, permits, fines and VAT, but exclude any charges or costs incurred by trusts who use third-party parking contractors. The current totals are lower than before the pandemic. In 2019-20, patients and their visitors paid £199.2 million for parking, and staff were charged £90.1 million.
Current NHS guidance, updated in March last year, says disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts should park for free.
The guidelines also recommend that any charges are ‘reasonable for the area’ while deterring commuters and shoppers.
But 18 trusts still make disabled people pay for parking at some or all of their sites, NHS data suggests.
Pictured: A surface hospital car park in Lancaster (File Image)
Pictured: A car park outside Macclesfield General Hospital in Cheshire (File Image)
Daisy Cooper, health and social care spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, who uncovered the figures, said: ‘Hospital car parking fees are becoming a tax on caring for visitors and our hard-working NHS staff.
‘This Conservative Government is utterly failing to deliver on their promise to crack down on unfair hospital parking fees, and people are literally paying the price.’
A Tory spokesman said: ‘The Conservatives have fulfilled their manifesto pledge to end unfair charges for those in greatest need. The Lib Dems should come clean as to which services they would cut to subsidise parking further.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said they had provided free hospital parking in England for those most in need.
He added: ‘As of October 2022, all trusts that charge for car parking have fully implemented this commitment. This is the first time that free hospital car parking in England has been made available to those who need it the most.’