NHS hospitals made £174m from hospital car park charges last year
NHS hospitals boosted their revenues with a 6% rise in takings from car park charges last year, new figures have revealed.
Overall hospitals made £174m in the last financial year from charging patients, visitors and staff, according to data from 111 trusts in England.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth called the charges an "entirely unfair and unnecessary burden", while the Liberal Democrats described the levy as a "tax on sickness".
A Department of Health spokesman blamed local NHS trusts for the "complex and unfair charges".
While figures varied significantly across trusts, more than half reported income of more than £1m a year from the charges.
The highest take was from the Heart of England trust, which raked in just shy of £5m.
The chief executive of the Patients Association, Rachel Power, expressed particular concern about charging for disabled people.
“Patients who require disabled parking may have little choice but to access their care by car, and may need to do so often. Targeting them in this way feels rather cynical.”
Mr Ashworth said a lack of central government funding was forcing hospitals to drum up more revenue.
“Even Jeremy Hunt has described this outrageous practice as a ‘stealth tax’, and yet Tory underfunding of our NHS has resulted in hospitals and private companies extracting record fees from patients and staff. Labour will abolish car parking charges and scrap this needless strain on already worried families.”
Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb added: "The vast sums of money that hospitals are making from parking charges reveal the hidden cost of healthcare faced by many patients and their families. All hospitals should be following the national guidelines to make sure that patients, relatives, and NHS staff are not unfairly penalised.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health joined the chorus of criticism, saying: “Patients and families should not have to deal with the added stress of complex and unfair parking charges. NHS organisations are locally responsible for the methods used to charge, and we want to see them coming up with flexible options that put patients and their families first.”