Hospitals trust makes £846,000 from staff parking and fines
The trust which runs Grantham Hospital has made £846,000 in the last year from staff parking charges and fines.
NHS Digital figures show that United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust made £846,000 from all its sites, over a 12 month period. It also made £1.8 million from charges to patients and visitors.
Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said parking charges generate revenue at a time when hospital finances are “under immense pressure”.
But she added: “Charges for car parking at hospitals are a charge on people who are unwell, levied on them because they are unwell. We believe that patients should not be effectively charged for being ill.”
Tom Sandford, director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, said: “Nursing staff work around the clock to keep patients safe - they should not be overcharged for doing their jobs.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We have made it very clear that patients, their families and our hardworking staff should not be subjected to unfair parking charges.
“NHS trusts are responsible for these charges and ensuring revenue goes back into frontline services, and we want to see trusts coming up with options that put staff, patients and their families first.”
ULHT increased hospital car parking prices in November. Charges increased to £1.70 for an hour, up from £1.60. The cost of parking from one to four hours increased from £3.80 to £4.20 and the cost of parking more than four hours has gone up from £4.50 to £5. Blue Badge holders pay a flat charge of £1.90, an increase of 20p.
The increase in prices came at the same time as the introduction of a new parking system run by ParkingEye which has been hit by a number of faults. ULHT has been forced to allow people to park for free over Christmas and New Year until January 7 because of the latest breakdown in the system.
Following a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association, it was revealed that more than four in 10 NHS hospitals have increased their parking prices, with some trusts doubling the cost for patients and visitors.
District councillor Charmaine Morgan, chair of SOS Grantham Hospital, said: "In total ULHT have made £2.6m from parking charges and fines in the last year. Whilst it may be necessary to prevent the inappropriate use of parking spaces by commuters the sum raised is excessive. Hospital Trusts across the country are turning to parking charges to help make up for funding shortfalls. It is little comfort to learn ULHT is using revenue raised to manage their car parks and increase security. They should be focusing funding on delivering improved patient care.
"In the meanwhile the charges are not 'fair' as the trust says because patients, visitors and staff have little option other than to park in the trust's rural hospitals. Secondly, flat parking fees and fines have to be paid regardless of the income of those required to pay. And, as visitors are known to help boost the morale and recovery rate of patients they should be encouraged not deterred. The centralisation of acute services by ULHT makes it all the more likely local people have to travel further to visit a hospital. Now, adding insult to injury, we face increasing parking charges too."
A properly funded local NHS hospital service paid for by a fair taxation system, where those who can afford to contribute more do, is the solution.