Chesterfield Royal Hospital trust makes nearly Â£700k through staff parking charges
The trust which runs Chesterfield Royal Hospital made more than half a million pounds by charging staff for parking last year.
Statistics seen by the Derbyshire Times show Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust raked in Â£674,590 in the year to March from charges incurred by NHS workers parking across all its sites.
The Unite union, which represents around 100,000 health workers, slammed the ‘scandalous’ revelation.
The figures also show the trust made a further Â£978,030 from parking charges paid by patients and visitors to its sites in the same financial year.
This brought the trust’s total income from car parking to almost Â£1.7million.
A trust spokesperson said: “We constantly review our car park charges for staff and visitors and have a number of different rates from short stay visits to an economic 14 day pass that allows visitors in and out of the car park with no time limit.
“Our car park income from all parking fees goes 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.”
'It is a scandal'
Across England, NHS trusts made a combined total of almost Â£70m from staff parking charges in the year to March.
Sarah Carpenter, national officer for health at Unite, said: “It is a scandal.
“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 per cent over the next three years.
“This pernicious trend is replicated by financially squeezed trusts across England – our members are being used as an extra income stream for these trusts.
“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.”
British Medical Association council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, added that it was ‘unacceptable’ for hospitals to plug financial gaps by charging and imposing fines on staff.
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'Patient care - not car parking charges - should be the top priority'
Across England, almost Â£157m was raised from parking charges incurred by patients and visitors.
The Patients Association has criticised the existence of parking charges for patients, describing them as ‘a charge on people who are unwell, levied on them because they are unwell’.
However, chief executive Rachel Power said they were a way for hospitals to generate revenue at a time when they are under ‘immense’ financial pressure.
She added: “The top priority for any new NHS funding should be patient care.
“At a time when patients are receiving undignified and unsafe care on hospital corridors, car parking charges are not the top priority – undesirable though they may be.”
NHS says 'it is right that trusts continue to develop their commercial income opportunities'
Decisions on how much to charge staff, patients and visitors to NHS sites are made by individual trusts.
However, the Department of Health and Social Care has issued guidance on how NHS organisations can make sure their policies are fair.
These include offering concessions to disabled and gravely ill people and their relatives, as well as to staff whose shift patterns mean they are unable to use public transport.
Hospital parking charges were abolished in Wales earlier this year after the last contract with a private firm expired – a decade after the Welsh Government announced parking would be free. Parking charges have also largely been abolished in Scotland but remain in Northern Ireland and England.
A spokesperson for NHS Improvement said income generated was used to pay the costs of providing parking while excess funds were put into clinical services.
They added: “As we develop the long-term plan for the NHS, it is right that trusts continue to develop their commercial income opportunities.
“This is so that they can maintain their services and ensure they can provide patients with high quality care, both now and in future.”
The figures represent the gross income earned by the NHS and do not take into account its own costs for providing car parking.