Hospital parking charges have earned over £2 million for NHS trusts serving Southwark in just one year, newly released data reveals.
According to statistics released by NHS Digital, King’s College Foundation Trust took over £1.6 million in gross income from parking charges in the last financial year.
The amount – with visitors and patients paying £1,179,283, and over £500,000 coming from staff – includes fines and parking permits from across all of the trust’s sites, including the Princess Royal University hospital and Orpington hospital.
A King’s College Trust spokesperson told the News that the charges were used to cover the costs of “maintaining and servicing the car park, including providing security for patients and staff”, meaning “NHS money intended for patient care is never spent on our car park.”
The trust added that there was no charge for registered disabled drivers and that the trust’s sites including King’s College hospital were well-served by public transport.
The News reported back in 2015 that the Trust had doubled its staff parking charges.
Patient and visitor parking at King’s College Hospital itself earned the trust nearly £535,000.
Meanwhile another Southwark NHS trust, Guys’ and St Thomas’, took in £852,566 from patients and visitors across its sites with staff forking out an additional £39, 197.
The stats also show that St Thomas’ hospital has the highest average parking charge for hospital patients and visitors in the country – at £3.20 an hour.
However, the trust told the News that although it would prefer not to charge for parking, it had to charge the sum to prevent tourists using the car-park to get into central London.
A Guy’s and St Thomas’ spokesperson said: “To ensure our car parking spaces remain available for our patients and are not misused by members of the public visiting central London, the cost of parking at St Thomas’ Hospital is in line with local parking facilities.
“All income generated is invested back into the Trust and helps to improve patient care and the hospital environment.
“The Trust has excellent public transport links and encourages patients and visitors to use these whenever possible.”
They added that concessions were on offer, including for long-term visitors, staff working night shifts and free parking for blue badge holders attending appointments.
The South London and Maudsley Trust – which provides specialist mental health services to south London boroughs including Southwark – made £106, 793 from patients parking charges and a further £29, 346 from staff.
A Trust spokesperson confirmed the amount made, but said it was invested into front line services to benefit patients.
The totals cover the parking charges earned from all of the individual sites managed by each NHS trust.
Sarah Carpenter, national officer for health from the union Unite, labelled the amounts taken from staff in parking charges by NHS trusts “a scandal,” adding it would take a big chunk of the current NHS pay package.
The union official said: “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.”
Nationally NHS trusts in England raised £226million from parking for both visitors and staff in 2017/18.
However, parking charges have been abolished in Wales and in large parts of Scotland.