5th Dec, 2016

Solihull's hospital trust defends parking charges after list is published

Solihull Editorial 4th Jul, 2016 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

THE HEART of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) has been listed in second place of hospital trusts taking the most money from its car parks.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request by motoring magazine Auto Express reveal the trust took £10,333,980 from its three sites – Solihull Hospital, Heartlands Hospital and Good Hope in Sutton Coldfield – between 2013 and 2016.

Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust topped the list as the highest earner, collecting £10.8m since 2013.

A spokesperson for HEFT said the trust was a large trust covering three hospital sites with over one million patients and a similar amount of visitors and relatives each year.

They added: “The Trust does not take any form of profit from car parking charges as the funds are used to fund capital charges, utility costs, security and car parking management services, as well as the upkeep, maintenance and investment in the car parks which includes CCTV systems, grounds, and road safety.

“We recognise that parking charges can be a very significant financial burden for some and so we offer discounts to anyone visiting our hospitals for more than one day, giving frequent visitors greater savings, and free car parking to those in receipt of income-related benefits.

“We also offer a wide range of discounted multiple day tickets, including passes for those attending on a regular basis to particular wards.”

The Auto Express Freedom of Information request? also revealed hospitals differ vastly in the amount they charge for parking.

Some set £3.50 as the standard tariff; others offer parking for as little as 60p while 14 per cent of trusts don’t offer any concessions to Blue Badge holders or long-term and terminally ill patients.

The Department of Health told Auto Express over half of NHS hospitals offer free parking, although the magazine found free parking is only for up to 30 minutes at most of these hospitals.

Only four trusts in England don’t charge for parking.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, told Auto Express: “This is a tax on the ill. Going to hospital can be stressful and patients do not need further stress by having to worry about the cost of parking or about any fines they may incur.”

Murphy also called on England to follow the lead of Scotland and Wales to scrap hospital parking charges.

It has been ?free for patients, visitors and staff in Scotland since 2009 in all but three hospital car parks, while Wales has also opted to not charge for car park use.

However, moves to scrap hospital parking fees in England have previously been blocked by Parliament, although last year, the British Parking Association (BPA) worked with the NHS to update its parking guidelines.

A BPA spokeswoman said: “Whilst many people attending healthcare facilities expect car parking to be free, the limits on space, costs involved and demand for spaces mean that parking needs to be managed. Often the most effective way to do this is by charging.

“Free parking at hospitals in Wales and Scotland has actually made the situation worse. If the users don’t pay for the parking then the trust does.”

On top of parking charges, trusts have issued 275,000 fines to patients and visitors worth £2.8m since 2013.

Top 10 highest earning hospital trusts’ parking incomes 2013-16:

Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust £10,858,298

Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust £10,333,980

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust £9,859,187

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust £9,391,935

Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust £8,940,052

The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust £7,813,559

Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust £7,417,537

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust £6,982,463

The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust £6,933,404

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust £6,544,045

 

Top 10 fine incomes 2013-2016:

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust £245,422

London North West Healthcare NHS Trust £149,903

Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust £146,940

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust £134,152

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust £126,757

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust £121,207

Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust £105,803

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust £95,000

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust £83,466

Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust £83,034