Thousands hit by hospital car park fines in ‘taxing of sick’

Calderdale Royal Infirmary
Calderdale Royal Infirmary

NHS bosses have been accused of “taxing the sick” as it emerges that tens of thousands of people using the region’s hospitals are being hit with parking fines.

Hospital trusts in Yorkshire have raked in more than £13m through parking charges, branded “a stealth tax”, during the last financial year.

It has been revealed that the number of patients, family members and staff being fined for parking at hospital sites is on the rise.

At least 75,000 visitors have been handed parking fines at hospitals in Yorkshire from 2012 up to March this year, according to information collated following Freedom of Information requests to the region’s NHS trusts.

The penalty notices brought in more than £200,000 for the trusts or their parking management companies between 2016 and 2017.

John Kell, head of policy at The Patients Association, urged the Government to commit more cash to the NHS in this month’s Budget announcement, to free up funds to axe the charges.

His call comes as long-standing motoring campaigner and Tory MP Robert Halfon labelled the charges as a “extortionate”, as he prepares to present a bill to Parliament on Tuesday calling for a new law to be introduced abolishing NHS hospital parking fees.

“Charges for car parking are effectively an extra charge for being ill,” said Mr Kell, of the Patients Association. “And we want to see an NHS where patients can access the care they need without extra costs of this sort. However, with the NHS’s financial problems mounting, it’s hard to see hospitals feeling able to dispense with this source of revenue.”

He asked trusts to consider adopting warning policies rather than fining people on the spot.

In Yorkshire, the highest income from parking charges in 2016/17 was made by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – one of the largest trusts in the UK – which raked in £3.7m.

It was followed by the £3m made by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Calderdale and Huddersfield and North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trusts, which both brought in £2.2m each last year. York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust also raked in £1.96m last year.