Months after introducing fees for blue badge holders, the Royal Surrey has been named the highest charging NHS trust in England for parking. Since autumn 2016, the minimum charge for using the Guildford hospital’s car park has been £4 for up to two hours.
It was also revealed this week that Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Frimley Park, Heatherwood and Wexham Park hospitals, raked in the second highest income from parking, raising almost £4 million across all three sites, including £1.5 million from staff alone.
It comes after around two-thirds of 111 NHS trusts responded to a freedom of information request by the Press Association about parking income and parking charges.
Figures obtained revealed NHS hospitals in England made a record £174 million from charging patients, visitors and staff to park in 2016/17, which is up six per cent on the previous year.
Many trusts are making more than a million and more than half now charge disabled people to park.
Defending the Royal Surrey’s charges, the trust said it was working with blue badge holders to ensure that those in receipt of certain benefits or of low income would still be able to park free.
The trust owns its car parks and they are managed on its behalf by a private contractor, who provides the attendants and collects the income.
Trust director of human resources and business support, Alf Turner, said: “In an ideal world we would not have to charge anyone for car parking, however the Royal Surrey, like all NHS hospitals, is faced with having to make difficult decisions at a time when budgets are under pressure and demand is increasing.
“The revenue from car parking is used to provide and maintain our car parks and any additional income is put back into patient care.”
A spokesman for Frimley Health, which also introduced charges for Blue Badge holders in November, earlier defended its parking charges, commenting: “Over the past three years the trust has spent millions of pounds improving parking facilities, including access for disabled drivers.
“As we only receive funding for the clinical services we provide, it is important that the running costs of our car parks do not encroach upon patient services.”