Parking charges net over £2million at Sunderland hospitals

Sunderland Royal Hospital
Sunderland Royal Hospital

Parking charges at Sunderland hospitals brought in more than £2million last year, according to the new figures.

City Hospitals Sunderland earned £2,060,000 from parking charges in 2016/17. That was an increase on the the 2015/16 figure of £1,845,000.

Nationally, NHS hospitals made a record £174 million in the last year from charging patients, visitors and staff for car parking.

Hospitals across England took £174,526,970 in parking charges in 2016/17, up 6 per cent on the year before, according to data collected by the Press Association.

In 2015/16, £164,162,458 was raised.

Some 120 NHS trusts across England were asked to give figures on parking charges and fines under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, of which 111 responded.

While NHS trusts in England continue to charge patients, visitors and staff for parking, hospital parking in Scotland and Wales remains largely free.

Some hospitals defended their revenues, saying some or all of the money was put back into patient care or was spent on maintaining car parks and grounds.

Others claimed their sheer size and the fact that they served busy neighbourhoods meant they took more revenue.

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the current state of NHS finances meant it was sometimes hard to blame hospitals for trying to find money.

But she said that did not make the current situation acceptable.

She added: "For patients, parking charges amount to an extra charge for being ill.

"Hospital appointments are often delayed or last longer than expected, so even if you pay for parking you could end up being fined if your ticket runs out."

Elsewhere, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust made £608,140 from parking charges in 2016/17, which included £224,377 from staff, and £383,763 from visitors/patients. That was an increase from £508,897 in 2015/16 (£162,306 staff, £346,591 visitors/patients).

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust made £747,905 in 2016/17, compared to £726,678 in 2015/16. It also generated £5,356 in parking fines in 2016/17, up from £1,551 in 2015/16.

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust made £1,007,244 in 2016/17 (£453,000 staff, £554,244 patients/visitor). That was slightly down on £1,063,337 earned in 2015/16 (£431,616 staff, £631,721 patients/visitor).