NHS Riding High on Car Park Profits

NHS hospitals are riding high on the profits earned from patients by way of wheel clamping, fines and too-high costs in car parks, a consumer group, Which?, study has shown. So much so that, NHS hospitals made a whopping £1.85 million from its car park.

In 2008-09, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust in Surrey are shown to have clamped 1,671 cars, the study said.

Then, Leeds General Infirmary (part of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust) earned £142,000 by issuing 10,330 fines.

Gathered from 126 NHS trusts and hospitals in England under the Freedom of Information Act, the data shows Hertfordshire's Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust charging £4, the highest minimum in England, for two hours of parking.

While no charges are levied on parking in hospitals across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the amount to be levied remains at the discretion of the hospital concerned in England.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "We can't be in favour of decentralisation and greater autonomy for NHS and then tell them how to run their car parking."

But it's clear that, where parking charges are making it difficult for staff to do their jobs properly, where they are damaging patients' access to services, or where they are stopping friends and relatives from visiting, they are too high, and hospital trusts have a responsibility to look at those factors, she asserted.