Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that his party will scrap hospital car parking charges in England if elected to Government.
It was previously reported that hospitals in England made £344 million over three years running up to June 2016.
However, Corbyn said that Labour would increase insurance tax on private healthcare to 20 per cent, a move that is expected to raise £160 million a year.
The Labour leader said: “Labour will end hospital parking charges, which place an unfair and unnecessary burden on families, patients and NHS staff. Hospital parking charges are a tax on serious illnesses.”
A spokesperson from the Conservative party said, “This promise isn’t worth the paper it’s written on because Jeremy Corbyn simply wouldn’t be able to deliver it.”
Each NHS Foundation Trust made an average of £949,000 a year from parking.
NHS trusts also gave out 275,000 fines to patients and visitors collecting £2.8millon since 2013. This resulted in an annual total of £8,200 a year income per trust from penalty charges.
Derby and Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust earned over £10m in the last three years from parking charges, with a quarter of hospitals putting the money made into car park maintenance instead of patient care.
In fact, Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust topped the list, wrapping up £10.8 million since 2013. A spokesperson said that the majority of the money obtained from parking charges is actually spent on car park maintenance, but added: “Any revenue remaining is reinvested into caring for our patients.”
Results from a Freedom of Information request highlighted that hospitals differ vastly in the amount they charge for parking. A number of hospitals set their standard rate at £3.50, some offering £0.60p for parking, whilst 14 per cent of trusts don’t offer any support to Blue Badge holders or long-term and terminally ill patients.
The Department of Health stated over half of NHS hospitals offer free parking, which is only up to 30 minutes. Out of the list of top ten parking incomes only four trusts in England don’t charge for parking.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said, “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.”
The CEO of Patient Association also called for 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 car parks, while Wales has decided to not charge for car park use.
Parliament has previously blocked moves to eradicate hospital-parking fees, the British Parking Association worked with the NHS to update its parking guidelines.
A BPA spokesperson 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 hospital in Wales and Scotland has actually made the situation worse. If the users don’t pay for the parking then the trust does.”
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
Source: ADI News
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