Car parking fees at hospitals soar by 50 in a year figures show
Hospital patients and visitors forked out £146 million for car parking last year – up by 50% from the previous year, figures show.
The Liberal Democrats, who uncovered the data, branded it a “tax on caring” and criticised the Tory Government for “failing to deliver” on a manifesto pledge to end unfair hospital car parking charges.
NHS England’s 2022/23 estates return information collection shows trusts’ gross income from patients’ and visitors’ parking was £145.8 million.
This was up 50% 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 spent in hospital car parks every day.
Meanwhile, car parking fees paid by hospital staff soared more than eight-fold 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 pandemic being reintroduced in March last year.
Patricia Marquis, the Royal College of Nursing’s director for England, said: “For nursing staff and support workers, the soaring cost of parking takes too much of their low wage.
“Government and the NHS must rethink – leaving nursing staff out of pocket just for doing their jobs is wholly unfair.”
Lib Dem health and social care spokesperson Daisy Cooper 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.”
The Tories’ 2019 election manifesto vowed to “end unfair hospital car parking charges” by making parking free for those in greatest need.
Current NHS guidance, updated in March 22, says that disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts should park for free.
Trusts, on a voluntary basis, should also ensure fees are “reasonable for the area” – but can decide how they charge.
The Lib Dems urged Rishi Sunak’s government to work with trusts to lower fees for patients and staff, and introduce a “visiting and caring fund” to support NHS staff with parking and ensure that no-one is paying unfair amounts to visit their loved ones in hospital.
The party also warned that ministers’ failure to properly fund local health services could lead to hospitals hiking parking charges.
NHS England’s budget is worth £3.5 billion less this year than last because of high inflation, according to recent research by the Health Foundation think tank.
Ms Cooper said: “It is unthinkable that Rishi Sunak is slashing NHS funding when hospitals are already on the brink. This will just make the cash crisis facing local health services even worse, forcing them to make more impossible choices in the years ahead.
“The message to the public couldn’t be clearer, voting Conservative is bad for your wallet and bad for your health.”
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.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub