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Hospitals make £23m in parking fees despite concerns over charges

Hospitals make £23m in parking fees despite concerns over charges

NHS Trusts in Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Walsall have made more than £23 million in parking charges since 2011 – with the figures rising each year.Critics have branded the fees as a stealth tax on the ill and accused NHS trusts of making cash out of the sick and vulnerable.Figures from a Freedom of Information request show that Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust has made £10.5m from parking charges in the last five years, with revenue rising by 15 per cent.Sandwell HospitalThe trust, which runs City Hospital and Sandwell General Hospital, took £2.3m in the last year alone – tand the cost of parking for an hour has risen from £2 to £2.80 since 2010.Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust has made £6.1m from parking over five years.The trust’s parking revenue has risen 31 per cent to £1.35m, while parking charges have doubled for an hour from £1 to £2.The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross Hospital, has brought in £6.8m in parking fees since 2011/12, with revenue rising 46 per cent.The cost of up to three hours of parkinghas risen from £2 to £3.30.The figures also show that University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust collected £3.35m from parking at Stafford County Hospital and Royal Stoke University Hospital in the last financial year alone.Parking at the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust is run by private firm Summit Healthcare, which refused to reveal how much had been collected in fees on the grounds that it is ‘commercially sensitive information’.
Nationally 41 trusts replied to the FOI request.The amount they collected from parking charges rose from £36.9m to £45.4m over five years, a rise of 23 per cent.Walsall Manor HospitalLast year Sandwell Council requested an extension of free parking at SWBHT-run sites from 15 minutes to one hour, but trust bosses ruled out the move as they said it would cost them £500,000.Katherine Murphy, chief executive of The Patients Association, said the figures revealed the ‘shocking reality’ of hospital parking charges being used to boost NHS funds. “This is not what car parking charges should be used for,” she said. “The NHS is clearly underfunded, but the onus on meeting the funding crisis should most certainly not be shouldered by the sick, injured and vulnerable.”The association has called for the fees to be scrapped or capped.Councillor Milkinder Jaspal, who represents Heath Town for Wolverhampton council, said: “It is plain wrong that hospitals are making so much money from parking.”People don’t go there because they want to, but because they have health needs or are visiting those who are undergoing treatment.”Jane Longden, deputy divisional director of estates and facilities at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Income generated from car parking fees is used initially to fund security, maintenance and upkeep of the car parking facilities and any surplus will be used to improve patient care.”New Cross Hospital, in WolverhamptonA spokesperson for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust said the trust aimed ‘to keep charges in line with other trusts in the region’ and had tried to ensure that costs ‘…

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