One in three hospitals in England put up the cost of parking last year, with patients and visitors objecting to the “exorbitant” prices, an investigation has found.
Two Yorkshire trusts feature in the top 10 list of highest earners from parking while the study showed hospitals made more than £254m from parking in 2018/19, as patients and visitors said they felt ripped off.
For the investigation, 7,883 patients and visitors who had used a hospital car park in the last two years were surveyed, and financial data was gathered from 144 NHS trusts.
Overall, 47 NHS trusts increased their charges between 2017/18 and 2018/19, typically by ten per cent.
The survey revealed that patients and visitors often struggle to find spaces, experience a lack of disabled parking, long queues and parking meters that do not work.
Overall, 86 per cent of those polled said parking added to the stress of a hospital visit.
One patient said: “The car parks are so busy that from 16.30 until 17.30 it can take nearly one hour to leave the hospital”, while another said: “I spent over £102 to visit my wife.”
Others described the charges as “a rip-off”, “too expensive”, “extortionate”, “astronomical” and “exorbitant”.
Overall, 126 NHS trusts provided data to PA following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
Data for an extra 18 trusts was collected from figures submitted to NHS Digital as part of their annual estates and returns information collection.
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust took the most parking revenue in 2018/19 at £6,352,676, up on the £6,285,340 the previous year, followed by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (£5,876,000) and University Hospitals Of Leicester NHS Trust (£5,025,860).
The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust brought in £3,968,709 and Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, £3,951,985.
A spokesperson for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We charge for parking so that the cost of building, maintaining and improving our car parking facilities and the security arrangements – lighting, cameras and patrols – do not come from healthcare budgets.
“Our minimum charge at the majority of our hospital sites is two hours as we know that, in many cases, one hour is just not enough for appointments and visits.
“Overall the Trust has over 5,000 car parking spaces across six hospital sites, including two multi-storey car parks. We have over 1.6 million vehicles on site each year so parking charges and income should be seen in that context.”
Mark Braden, Director of Estates, Facilities and IT, at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Hospital car parking charges enable the Trust to invest in patient services and the provision of a free bus service for patients and relatives to travel between our three hospital sites.
“Our car parking tariffs also support a number of concessions for people who have Blue Badges, are accessing certain clinical services, who have extended treatment plans and people in receipt of certain benefits.”
Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers Saffron Cordery said abolishing charges could cost around £200m per year, and trusts would have to find funding from elsewhere, which could “impact on patient care”.
Overall, trusts took £254,373,068 in 2018/19, including at least £142,958,247 from patients and visitors and £65,219,879 from staff.
This is up 10 per cent on the £232,236,216 the year before, which included at least £124,864,444 from patients and visitors and £60,060,676 from staff.
Income from parking fines also increased by eight per cent in 2018/19 to £1,557,749, despite fewer trusts disclosing their income than the previous year. Just under half (65 out of 124) trusts said their car parks were managed by a private company, with at least 23 of these private firms taking all the fines income. Half of trusts charged for disabled parking.