Despite a crackdown by the government, hospitals made a massive £175m in parking charges in 2017, a new record for a twelve-month period. They also made nearly another £1 million from parking fines, an increase of 30% on the previous figure, though some sources believe this number is nearer £4 million. Worst of all is that over 50% of them still charge disabled patients to park in the car parks.
According to a Freedom of Information request by This Is Money, the highest charges in the country are in Guildford at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. The hospital charges £4 an hour for people to park. Another 14 hospitals around the country charge at least £3 an hour including Northampton General at £3.20 and Southend University Hospital at £3.10.
Previously, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had admitted that the fees were ‘unfair’ and three years ago introduced guidelines that urged NHS trusts to offer free or reduced parking for the disabled, cancer patients, relatives and staff. However, the instructions weren’t legally binding and were ignored by many trusts who wanted the vital source of income from parking fees.
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Tax on sickness
According to Lib Dem Health Spokesman Norman Lamb, the hospital parking charges amount to a tax on illness, people who are chronically ill or disabled being the ones who must pay the most. This shows the hidden cost of healthcare for many people around the country, said Mr. Lamb.
Labour Health Spokesman Jonathan Ashworth added that hospital parking was ‘entirely unfair’ and an unnecessary burden that affected the most vulnerable people in society who needed to use hospital services frequently.
Even Jeremy Hunt admitted that the outrageous practice was a ‘stealth tax’ but the under funding of hospitals meant that trusts were left trying to make money from patients to compensate.
The five most expensive hospital car parks in the country made an impressive amount of money from their charges. The Royal Surrey County Hospital, top of the list regarding the hourly cost, secured over £1.5 million last year while Northampton General, charging a little less, made more at £1.67 million.
Southend University Hospital made just over £1.8 million and Royal Free Hospital in North London over £2 million, charging £3 an hour. Another big earner was the Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool charging £3 an hour making a staggering £2.67 million.
Enviable rise in income
Figures from 111 of the 150 hospital trusts around England showed that they made £174.5 million in parking charges in the 2016-17 period, an increase of 6% on the same period the year before. Of these trusts, 56 said disabled patients were charged for some or all their designated spaces.
The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust made the most money during the period, over £4.8 million. In fact, two-thirds of trusts had made more than £1 million for each of the last three years. Car parking in Scotland and Wales are mostly free.
Paying the price
One example is a woman who donated her kidney to her sister through The Heart of England trust. It costs her family £30 a day to visit her sister who has been on dialysis for two years and sometimes, they cannot afford to visit her due to the parking costs. Another example is patients visiting for 10-minute appointments who end up paying for two hours on a regular basis.
A spokesman from the Heart of England said that the trust does profit from car parking charges but uses the money made to fund utility costs, security and a parking management service as well as for the upkeep of the car park itself. Other hospitals have a similar justification for the charges in place.
The Department of Health continues to insist that trusts alone are responsible for what they charge and what they do with the money.
What do you think of local health authorities literally “cashing in” on the sick and old who have no choice to park there? Are the Government doing enough and if not what action do you think can be taken? Let us know in the comments below.
It is an outrage that vunerable sick people are being robbed by extortionate
charges. Yes charge for parking by all means,but a reasonable fee,a fraction of what is being charged currently.The government needs to
enforce changes immediately.
Maybe you should target your anger at those who aren’t disabled but abuse the system by using others blue badges, hospitals pay staff to try and find these inconsiderate scumbags that’s what you pay fees for
I have to attend Southend University hospital for blood tests regularly because of Warfarin medication. There are two car parks at the front of the building with limited parking on the surrounding streets because it is residents only parking. They offer a free half hour in the car parks . In one you park your car and don’t pay until you leave the hospital. If you get held up even for a few minutes over the half hour it cost £3.10. In the other car park you pay for the time and an extra half hour is added at the end of the time on the ticket so you don’t gain anything by finishing on time.
It is diabolical that at the same hospital disabled have to pay.
They should organise a park and ride such as thata at Chelmsford Broomfield hospital where I attended recently. I was not charged after 9am because of my bus pass so cost me nothing. Others pay £3.50.
The parking at Southend is I believe run by a private company so I wonder how much the hospital actually get from the care parking fees.
This is an outrageous scam of the worst sort. What has happened to ‘free at the point of use’. The technology exists for genuine patients, visitors, and staff to register their details while in the hospital and not be charged on exit. This would answer the city centre problems of commuter and shopper parking and would free the surrounding streets which are clogged with people trying to avoid these unreasonable charges. The government must act now with legislation, not ‘advisory’ rules. We don’t choose to be sick or disabled and we want adequate staff in our hospitals.
As a slight aside – when I had to take my young son into A&E in Plymouth in a hurry, there was not dedicated priority parking and as it was really busy I had to ask a couple who were just visiting if I could take the space they were about to use. … and then I had to pay leaving my son alone in the car … then how long was it all going to take and how much to pay for … not a system fit for purpose!
1st class symptom of how greedy and sick this once great and fair country has become. Giving millions away abroad to countries that hate us is a terminal illness in itself. Get it right for Britain for goodness sake.
We need to know for certain where all this money goes.
Does it all go to the NHS or is it a nice little earner for outside interests.
Someone has to pay the attendants even if its just to empty the machines, then there are the machines and barriers to pay for or the rental of and the surface to be looked after and swept now and again then there’s the manager and supervisors wages
Sowhy don’t the nhs/hospital employ and run the car park them selves instead of hiring a middle man ie nap or whoever obviously profitable or parking companies would not exist
There are 2 problems with not charging, at the hospital where I work 1, staff would fill the patient car parks as they are more convenient than the staff car parks where the staff have to pay so there would be even less parking for visitors. 2 we are near an airport so before we charged it was used as airport parking so that would happen again especially with the tram links in place. Regular Visitors can get a reduced ticket/pass although this should be better advertised. And don’t get me started on disabled paying for parking, I agree with priority/ better access places for parking and wider spaces that’s a physical need but disabled people are still humans like the rest of us many work and live lives like the rest of us I don’t see why a disabled person shouldn’t pay. Oh and non disabled people should be heavily fined for parking in disabled spaces but also disabled people should not park blocking roads and on bends, double yellow lines means no parking for us but also means its a bad place to park so for those that don’t park carefully, and it’s probably a minority, please be sensible.
Tom whilst I agree with your comment that disabled should pay it should be at a reduced rate since disabled persons take longer with tasks and need more frequent visits for their care
Disabled or not people do not go to a hospital for fun or a picnic they go either to visit someone in the hospital or for treatment because they are lll/sick & if airport users are using the hospital car parks then introduce a system so paitents etc. who need the hospital can get any fee refunded but others would pay a greatly increased fee which would not be refundable.
Good observation that disabled people are humans! Disabled people should not pay because they have no option but to drive, or be driven, to the hospital. The rest of us can walk, cycle, catch a bus or be dropped off nearby to avoid the parking charges.
Whoes I making the money I visit hospitals regulary and private companies run the parking INDIGO /NCP
All hospital car parks in Wales are free except for University of Wales which is still under contract until sometime this year. Prices here have been frozen since 2008
Former Health Minister Edwina Hart announced in 2008 that hospital car parking charges were to be scrapped in Wales unless external contracts were already in place.
Many hospital car parks across Wales are now free of charge.
But there are still parking charges at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales (UHW), which is run by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
Why are there still parking charges?
At UHW, private company Vinci Park is responsible for all car parking at the site.
Vinci Park’s contract runs out in 2018 so parking charges will remain in place until then.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board assistant director of capital and Estates, Geoff Walsh previously said: “The UHB inherited an historical private finance initiative with Vinci Park Cardiff Limited who built two new cars parks for University Hospital of Wales. The contract is due to expire in 2018 when the health board will reconsider patient parking arrangements.
“Until then, we will continue to work in partnership with Vinci Park on schemes to support patients or visitors who are regular users of our services at UHW.
“Patients who require an extended period of treatment or relatives visiting for an extended period will be able to purchase an Alpha Pass which offers a reduced rate, and is available from the Vinci Park office in the large multi-storey car park.”
The cost of parking has been frozen and not risen with inflation since 2008.
These are the visitor tariffs:
Up to 4 hours – £2.20
Up to 5 hours – £3.40
Up to 6 hours – £5.60
Up to 8 hours – £6.70
8 to 10 hours – £8.80
Up to 24 hours – £10.
Hospital staff also have to pay to park at work, even if in a car park a 10 min walk away! 1% of basic salary is the charge, so the huge 1% wage increase awarded was only 0.99% extra after parking deduction.
How can they charge disabled people for parking but yet in the rules of blue badge holders and a printed article by the Daily Mirror states you can park there free and as a blue badge holder you cannot be clamped. How are people supposed to believe anything. At the end of the day it all boils down to how much can the government take out of your pocket. I’ts absolutely a disgrace.
I live in Leicester I use the disable parking at the moment it’s free as I have to go for heart checks and pacemaker checks if Scotland and Wales does not charge take what mr hunt says like a pinch of salt as the health service as got worse under him
MR hunt has private health care he puts his fingers up to the likes of us as do all politicians , they couldn’t care less as long as they get paid
Have you ever considered the fact that when you park in a Hospital car park in England, you are actually paying to park on your own property!
No the NHS does not own the land, neither does the government, all the property administered by the NHS & it’s various Hospital “trusts” has been paid for by your National Insurance (a tax by any other name) contributions & the taxes you pay to HMRC
Where does parking fees go to? Is it to pay the Fat Cats at the top wages. Is the money going to the car parking Companies?£175 million would be a good boost to the NHS. Lets get to the bottom of this.
Parking for appointments and visitors of the terminally sick should be free but then people like my misses who had to go in to feed her mother twice a day because her mother needed help in feeding as she would either refuse it or didn’t know what to do with it should be free as well, for those that want to know she got her mother sent home in a very weak state but she got her health back after a couple of weeks of proper care, my misses.
Disabled, I no longer go to most hospital appts. (notify hospital in advance so as not to waste their time)
Don’t give up mate, you’re not alone!
Most unfair that the charges are so high. Royal Surrey County Hospital has recently started charging disabled people £4 per visit. If one has to go several times per week this mounts up. There is a £15 bargain weekly season ticket! I would not mind paying a smaller sum to cover upkeep of car parks but these fees are too high and a tax on sickness. The fees in the non-disabled car park are even more exorbitant.
Just another of the joys of car ownership of which there are many regularly complained about non car users can only complain about fares on buses and trains etc.
Greedy NHS I dint mind having to pay a moderate fee but £3 an hour is not acceptable. Although I agree disabled people should pay if they have prime parking. Unless being disabled means you can’t get your hand in your pocket of course.
Ridiculous! Disability and chronic (sometimes invisible) illness is not a lifestyle choice! In a nutshell, this damn Tory government is purposefully bleeding our NHS dry using stealth privatizing methods. The parking charges are absurd, yet you can’t blame hospitals for trying to find money elsewhere. They’re desperate!
How can we change this and save ‘our’ NHS? Get rid of the Tories, period!
You probably haven’t noticed that some disabled people aren’t able to get their hand in their pocket (unfortunately they cannot choose their disability). Disabled people should not have to pay for prime parking because they have no option but to drive, or be driven, to the hospital. The rest of us can walk, cycle, catch a bus or be dropped off nearby to avoid the parking charges. Just be thankful that you can walk any distance you want to, including the short distance to the hospital entrance!
On a recent visit to Bedford General Hospital I was charged £12 to park for just over an hour. I went to the meter entered my Reg No. inserted my creditcard as it was just before 11am the meter read 12.00. I mistook this for 12noon when it actually meant £12.00. apparently this meter automatically goes to the max (allday) and you have to reduce it if you need to. Rip off.
Yes, but…I’m in Scotland, free hospital parking (trumpeted by SNP) simply means you cannot use the car parks, they are always full. There used to be a small (£1) charge which paid for someone to monitor who used them (often a student) which worked well. I have to attend every 8 weeks and live more than 2 hours each way away by public transport, there’s a time limit on all the (charged) local parking which is very tight for the treatment I get. We recently had to attend a different hospital (our nearest, only £20 each way by taxi or a 4 hour round trip by bus) for broken bones (alternating with wife:-( Had to park about a mile away in a pay car park and walk. Car park cost similar to what people here are complaining about, but proceeds not going to the NHS. Free parking? Be careful what you wish for.
Not only hospitals but councils charging disabled to park in car parks
Not only hospitals but councils charging the disabled for parking in car parks
MY WIFE IS DISABLED AND HAS TO GO TO OUR LOCAL HOSPITAL OFTEN AND ALTHOUGH DISABLED PARKING IS FREE I STILL HAVE TWO PROBLEMS WITH PARKING. ONE IS THE LACK OF DISABLED PARKING FACILITIES, THERE BEING LESS THAN 40 AROUND THE HOSPITAL THAT I HAVE FOUND OF WHICH, BEING THE SECOND PROBLEM, OVER 20 OF THEM I CANNOT USE DUE TO THE HEIGHT OF MY VEHICLE AS THE DISABLED BAYS ARE IN A PART OF THE CAR PARK WITH A LOWER CEILING THAN THE REST OF THE CAR PARK. THE REMAINDER OF THE OTHER SPACES OUTSIDE THE MULTI-STOREY CAR PARK ARE ALWAYS FULL OR SERVE ANCILLARY BUILDINGS WELL AWAY FROM THE CLINIC AREAS!
show your hospital appointment card dated for that day and park free also nurses should park free ,i have a blue badge i park outside ,i cant afford the charges
This is a difficult situation and agree in principle that parking should be free especially for disable users. I now live in Wales where there is free parking, and although busy the hospitals in my area do not have the problem of other people using the car park. I used to live in Worthing where the hospital is near the town centre in the midst of the meter zone. If they didn’t charge it would be full of all-day business people and shoppers parking with no space left for the hospital users.
Does no one realise hospitals don’t get rates like councils to repair roads, car parks and other car related infrastructure, the hospitals also have to employ staff to ensure that indiscriminate parking is dealt with, the car park staff at the hospital where I work alert patrons and staff if there is a problem with their car, let’s not also forget CCTV camera costs, that protect staff and vehicles, without this income all the extras will go
Then the fees charged should be set at a not for profit rate that covers the costs no more, £1.75 millon is a huge amount of profit from the sick who often do not have a choice.
Scotland still has Hospitals that you have to pay parking
Ninewells keep putting the fee up and disabeled still have to pay
Interesting that Frimley Park Hospital, that did allow the disabled to park for free, ceased to do so from December 2017.
Who is making the £175 million as a visitor to hospital car parks they appear to run by private overseas companies like INDIGO a Swiss French owned companies
1. If the car park at Ipswich Hospital was free of charge then you would never find a parking space because (a) they would be used by staff and (2) there would be no incentive for people attending the hospital to vacate the car park at the earliest opportunity, i.e. no time limit. As it is at present it works and the charges are reasonable. There are discount schemes available for regular users, e.g. patients on chemotherapy and regular visitors.
2. Hospital car parks cost a considerable amount of money to construct and maintain. Why shouldn’t the people that use them pay for them, rather than the NHS (i.e. taxpayers like you and me)?
Its a bit misleading just quoting amounts of gross collection. The trusts claim that they only charge to cover costs (quote that), contract management and maintenance (quote that). Any (accidental) surplus is invested in medical services. So real understanding only comes from the breakdown
Strangely, places like Royal County Surrey Hospital (starring above) have fees more than double the local council carparks although the nearest one is FREE because its a non-enforced Park & Ride. Only charged for the bus!
My local big hospital has a multistorey, and is within easy walking distance of the city centre so you’d still have to have some form of ticketing control. Also, the multistorey was built with borrowed money, so who’s going to pay if parking is free? The trust is in financial crisis, one of those under government special measures.
Can you please make clear in your articles which country you are speaking about. There are 5 countries in the British Isles, 4 of them in the United Kingdom and all but England with their own governments.
Each country has different legislation and in Scotland, for example, there are no parking charges at any hospital.
You should make this clear in your articles.
Anne, you are mistaken in stating that there are no charges for parking at any hospital in Scotland. Parking is charged at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and according to someone else who has contributed to this discussion parking charges apply at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
I agree with Tom, are there third parties making a pile out of this? The hospitals made £174.5 million but what do other parties in the chain take? Why cannot hospital appointment letters have a barcode to allow free parking access for that day? This nettle about parking must be grasped for the LONG term!
What the article fails to mention is that in Scotland and Wales parking is free, unless the hospital is contracted to a Private Finance Initiative (PFI)
Also worth repeating is staff have to pay as well.
To add insult to injury, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland you get free prescriptions, not like here at £8.60 per item!
No good Labour bleating; did they do anything when in power!
No good Lib-Dims bleating when they shared power with the Conservatives, it did not seem high on there wish list!
Also both these party’s are anti-car and just think it is another way of punishing those that drive!
Free parking in Scotland, free prescriptions too but some folk still moan about our government. It’s shocking some of the prices stated though especially those on long term treatment
Hospital parking is a complex and contentious subject. Your article raises many disucssion points but I would be interested to know if when you talk about hospitals “making money” and “cashing in”, whether the figures you quote are income or profit because there is a big difference. Parking spaces cost money and someone, somewhere will have to foot the bill for them regardless of whether it is the public who use the facility or the Trust who provide it for them.
I am absolutely sick of hearing on the News how bad the NHS is doing, to be honest I have actually reached the stage of dreading the idea of entering an NHS Hospital at all. I am 73 years of age and I am of course in the age bracket where I may need to go to my local A&E and I can assure you I will have to be on my knees before I would ring for assistance. Car Parking charges seem to be just another symptom of a wonderful institution being undermined and used as a political football by the Government to cover the bald fact that the NHS is just not up to the job of caring for the population as it used to be. Many reasons lie behind this and I am no politician but I have to say if our current Prime Minister or other high profile patient had to be admitted to Hospital via A&E I sincerely doubt they would have to wait for maybe over 4hours before seeing a doctor or other NHS professional. Car parking fees should be abolished it is just another tax on the sly, if Scotland and Wales can waive car parking charges then so should we..who funds who here?
I do hope that when my time comes I manage to Die before I have to submit myself to hours and hours on a trolley or corridor in a NHS Hospital staffed by overworked Doctors and Nurses…and then if my wife comes to visit me she will be charged car parking fees which are out of this World for the privilege, I think a quick exit would be the answer for me. I do hope that somebody who is in a position to do something real about this situation reads this, I have no political agenda I am just scared to death that I or my wife should have to call on the NHS for assistance…God help us both.
When will NHS bosses realise that visiting hospital as patient or visitor causes stress/raises BP for people & will likely make patients symptoms worse by the time they park & get to their appointment? The self-defeating syndrome is first you worry about finding a parking place, then if you are lucky to get one, worry about what the cost will be as you never know how long a treatment visit will be, especially if appointments are running late due to patient overload??
I was a paramedic in Devon, and have been asked by patients, and relatives, not to take the patient in to hospital, as they couldn’t affoird to visit
The disabled spaces are the ones nearest to the dor at our Hospital and there is always a queue for the car park reserved for them. Most of the vehicles queueing are paid for and have running costs assisted by mobility allowance, why should they get any more financial aid than any other motorist ? Blue badges should be investigated more stringently.
I am disabled, I have a blue badge, and don’t pay at my local hospital. But I think charging anyone for hospital visits is a tax on the sick. It is private firms who benifet from the charges not the NHS.
Everybody should be entitled to a refund as the NHS is free at the point of treatment and these hospitals are part of the NHS
My local hospital – Wexham Park is now charging blue badge holders.
I think it’s right and proper that disabled users should pay for parking in car parks, personally I find it appalling that only 50% of hospitals charge for disabled parking. If someone is disabled should they be entitled to cheaper parking than me? No! They already get benefits or a free car or cash as part of their disability package and avoid paying bridge fees like the rest of us.
If they want to drive then pay to park like the rest of us, I have to scrimp and save for a car and am not given a shiny new one ever 3 years.
I’m ok with the parking fees as long it’s fair and non profit making.
What I’m not ok with
Private companies running it
Terminally ill patients and family paying.
The government won’t change it because they are making money for it but what gets me where does the money go to ? They should each year or 6 months show a break down of the money.
Everybody should have Access to this information.
Let’s not forget who is paying for the NHS it’s NOT the trust it’s not the government it’s the British people . We forget what the government is there to GOVERN.
a posh word for care takers for the British people’s needs but lets not also forget we all own and pay for this and the British people have the right and the power to exercise our citizens rights to challenge, to question and to force changes on anything the NHS trust or government makes on our behalf because we own it and this does affects everybody .
But the truth is that the British people have lost the fight against our governing powers .
As a quote comes to mind.
If it’s not affecting me why should I get involved but what people forget, that it will at some point in their lives and I bet they know somebody that is paying for it now.
I am a member of staff and I have to pay to use a off site carpark. This is at the end of a residential street, secluded with no security and no lighting, making staff using the carpark early morning and after late afternoon very vulnerable. The car park also is surrounded by a park area notorious for drug dealing and crimes that go with it.
Is it time for those who are unwell disabled or unable to get to hospital by public transport and cannot afford taxis to apply for hospital transport and perhaps call an ambulance as they are so unwell. ”Healthy ” visitors can park elsewhere and/or get public transport. When the hospital transport which is already overloaded and the Ambulance services which are in the same dire straights collapse under the additional use and the health trusts suffer this increase in their costs and loss of revenue funding utility security and managment with 250k+ salaries. perhaps it may provide adequate parking at reasonable costs and free parking to one visitor per patient during visiting hours,
As a patient going for a 10 minute appointment at hospitals in London I have never had the luxury of a two hour charge. every clinic in the last two years has been delayed at least by 90 minutes and I am lucky if I get out in 4 hours. So to the Heart of England and all the other Hospitals using the no profit justification, You are not just getting gross profit from parking you are profiting grossly and subsidising the areas you are not getting funded by the Government. Be honest and call it as it is