An investigation has found that 47 hospital trusts in England have income of more than £1million from charging patients, staff and visitors to park – including the disabled in some cases.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STH) raised the fifth highest amount from parking in the country in 2014/15 at £3.16m.
The figure is an increase of almost £200,000 compared to the year previous, while elsewhere in the region North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLG) raked in £2.15m and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust generated £1.97m.
STH has explained that the income does not represent how much profit was made, while as the UK’s second largest trust and with almost 3,800 spaces its income will always appear comparatively higher.
Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff, a member of the Government’s Health Select Committee, has called for a “wider debate” as more discretion is needed.
“Frankly some of the cities’ charges are getting beyond a joke now,” she said. “In Leeds you’re talking £6 just for a few hours and it’s not unusual to be stuck in hospital for hours waiting for an appointment – it feels kind of wrong.
“We don’t want people to be put off attending hospital because they are worried about the cost of parking.”
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said it was unfair that hospital parking in Wales and Scotland was largely free but patients in England are still forced to pay.
She said: “It is a postcode lottery and a tax on sick people who sometimes struggle to pay.”
Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne said: “For some patients and their families, the costs can really rack up, which is why these figures are so worrying.”
Nationally almost half of the 90 trusts who issued data charge disabled people for parking in some or all of their disabled spaces.
Kevin O’Regan, hotel services director at STH, said any surplus made is reinvested in NHS services, while the trust offers a number of concessions and free parking for disabled people.
He said: “Our average car parking cost per hour compares very favourably with a number of other hospitals and equates to an average of 76p per hour.”
NLG is among the trusts to use a private contractor to run its parking facilities but insists that any surplus made is returned to the trust.
Keith Fowler, head of facilities, said: “The company we contract to carry out the car parking and security service does not receive any incentives or additional income from parking charges.”
Other trusts to raise more than £1m from parking charges were in Hull and East Yorkshire (£1.54m) and Barnsley (£1.12m).
The Department of Health said all NHS organisations are expected to follow its guidelines on car parking, including offering discounts to disabled people.
• Seven trusts made more than £3 million in 2014/15. They included:
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust £3.16 million
• Eight trusts made between £2 million and £3 million a year, including:
Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust £2.15 million
• A further 33 trusts earned between £1 million and £2 million a year, including:
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust £1.97 million
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust £1.54 million
Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust £1.12 million