Chesterfield Royal Hospital Trust made over £1 million last year by charging patients and staff for parking

Chesterfield Royal Hospital raised more than £1 million through charging staff, patients and visitors to park last year, latest figures reveal.

Wednesday, 13th January 2021, 4:45 pm

NHS Digital data shows Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust made around £1.8 million in parking charges and penalty fines in the year to March 2020.

A total of £972,629 of this amount was paid by patients and visitors, while the remaining £783,810 was raked in through charging staff to park.

Figures reveal that the trust’s patients and visitors paid an average hourly rate of £1.30 while staff spent 13p per hour in the 12 months to March.

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Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Across the country, NHS trusts in England raised £289 million from parking charges – nearly a third of which came from staff parking, generating £90 million over the year.

The figures represent the gross income earned by the NHS and do not take into account its own costs for providing car parking.

According to the data, workers are losing £2 or more from their pay packet every hour at the most expensive car parks nationally.

A Chesterfield Royal Hospital trust spokesperson said: “Since the end of March 2020 we have waived parking charges for staff, patients and visitors.

“Historically, we constantly review our car park charges for staff and visitors with all parking fees going towards the hospital’s annual running costs, including car park and roadway repairs, site security, lighting and maintaining our grounds and gardens.

“The income we raise is a contribution to this that helps to protect budgets for patient care and staffing.”

Trade union GMB announced it was "sickening" that nurses, midwives and cleaners in many trusts across the country have had to shell out money to park at their place of work, as the group called on ministers to scrap parking charges for workers altogether.

Rachel Harrison, the union's national officer, said: "Government cuts have inflicted a heavy toll on the NHS, but trusts should not be clawing that cash back by charging the people we rely on to keep us alive."

The Government announced last year that it would cover the costs of providing free car parking to NHS staff working in hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it said the scheme would end in all but "certain circumstances" as the pandemic eased over the summer.

Patients' rights campaigners the Patients Association admitted that while billing people to park at NHS car parks is a "charge on people who are unwell," it provides much-needed income for trusts at a time when their finances are under pressure.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care commented: "In March, the Government committed to making hospital car parking free for NHS staff for the duration of the pandemic and is providing additional money to NHS trusts to cover the cost of implementing this.

"Any surplus income generated from hospital car parks not used to fund the provision of car parking, such as security and maintenance, must be reinvested into frontline care."

But greater clarity on the overall funding pot for free staff parking is needed, according to NHS Providers, which represents trust leaders.

In a briefing to MPs, the organisation said it is "vital" that trusts receive enough funding to pay for the measure to enable them to maintain services and put money into frontline services.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.