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NHS trusts are under fire after it emerged that they had raked in nearly £227m in parking charges and fines in just 12 months – with £70m of that coming from its own staff.

The figures were released by NHS Digital, which showed the amount of money raised from parking in 2017/18 across charges and penalties.

Sarah Carpenter, national officer for health at Unite – one of the UK’s largest trade unions – said: “It is a scandal that NHS trusts in England have pocketed nearly £70million from staff parking charges.

“Such a large figure will take a large chunk out of the gains in the current NHS pay package which saw most staff get a pay rise of 6.5% over the next three years.

“We would like a situation where dedicated NHS staff, who don’t earn a fortune, don’t have to pay to park their cars to go to work to look after the sick, the vulnerable and the injured 365 days a year.”

Nearly £157m was raised from charges of patients and hospital visitors – bringing the total raised by parking in the last year to £227m. The figure is solely the gross income for parking, and doesn’t take into account the NHS’s own costs to provide spaces for vehicles .

Hospital charges have long been under fire by both the public and trade unions, although parking charges are not the same everywhere, as individual hospital trusts can come up with their fees.

Despite this, the Department of Health and Social Care has issued guidelines to trusts on parking, and has said that concessions should be offered to those who are disabled or gravely ill, as well as for staff whose shifts don’t allow them to get public transport to and from work.

While the figures have largely been slammed by organisations, the official hospital regulator NHS Improvement said that the trusts re-invest the money to cover parking fees and put further money into patient care.

Hospital parking charges were completely abolished earlier in the year, with most trusts in Scotland no longer charging for patients and staff to park. There are of yet no plans for the same to happen in England or Northern Ireland.

Ted Welford

By

October 18, 2018

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