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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 17:44 GMT
Hospital car parks make millions
Hospital car park (pic courtesy of Macmillan Cancer Relief)
Some trusts make more than 2m from car parking charges
Campaigners say the money made by NHS trusts from car parking charges is shameful as some trusts' income tops 2m a year.

According to the list released by the Estates Return Information Collection, 30 trusts are making more than 1m each from their car parks.

But the top earners were Southampton University Hospitals at 2.41m and Cambridge University Hospitals, 2.26m.

Overall, the NHS took 95m in charges but 74 trusts did not supply figures.

TOP PARKING EARNERS
Southampton University Hospitals - 2.41m
Cambridge University Hospitals - 2.26m
Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals - 1.72m
Norfolk and Norwich - 1.71m
East Kent Hospitals - 1.68m

Macmillan Cancer Support acting chief executive, Judy Beard, said: "These figures are shocking.

"Cancer patients spend hundreds of pounds each year on hospital parking.

"Macmillan wants to see all cancer patients travelling regularly for treatment to be able to park free at hospital.

"NHS Trusts urgently need to implement this guidance - it is shameful that cancer patients are still paying to park at hospital."

And she added the government should step in and introduce stronger regulations if cancer sufferers continued to be charged.

Sandra Gidley, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, described the charges as a "tax on the sick".

Problem

The Department of Health defended the charges, saying they helped to ensure only those using the hospital parked there, and re-iterated that they were up to individual trusts.

A spokesman said: "Ultimately, it is a matter for individual NHS bodies to decide whether or not to charge for car parking, and the level of charges in the light of local circumstances.

"Charges help hospitals as it discourages people who are not using the hospital from using the car parking spaces. This can be a problem, especially in inner city areas.

"Most hospitals have exemptions from charges for patients and hospital staff are generally well trained in advising patients about these exemptions."

Roy Lilley, a former NHS trust manager, said the key problem was that hospitals did not make their exemption policies clear.

"Whilst most hospitals do have exemptions it is very hard to figure out how you get an exemption.

"You should not have to feel that you have to go begging for the refund. Where you pay there should be a list saying this is how you do it."

A spokeswoman for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said - in a statement on Addenbrooke's, the trust's busiest hospital: "Our parking system is designed to accommodate the many different needs of our patients and visitors.

"Concessionary parking charges are made for long term visitors and patients, and special arrangements are in place for cancer patients.

"Charging for car parking allows us to provide safe and secure car parks for those who need to bring their cars on site."




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