Patients and visitors to Sheffield hospitals have paid more than £3 million in a year in car park charges, new figures reveal.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust raised £3,126,108 from car park charges in 2014/15 – up on the £3,002,865 in 2013/14.
And it has taken an additional £1,316,539 since April this year.
Health bosses in Sheffield defended its revenue saying that once maintenance and new developments costs are covered, the money collected from its thousands of car parking spaces is reinvested.
But campaigners have accused them of levying a ‘tax on sick people’.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is one of seven trusts across England to have earned more than 2014/15 from charges. A further eight made more than £2 million a year while another 32 earned more than £1 million a year.
The trust said it has almost 3,800 car parking spaces across Sheffield so the revenue it makes will always be higher than most other hospital trusts.
Kevin O’Regan, hotel services director at Sheffield Teaching Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The figure of £3 million is not profit, it is the income we receive.
“We have almost 3,800 car park spaces which are used several times a day by patients, visitors and staff.
“We care for more than two million patients and have a similar number of visitors each year.
“Our average car parking cost per hour compares very favourably with a number of other hospitals and equates to an average of 76p per hour.
“As the UK’s second largest trust the number of car parking spaces we have is significantly more than most and so our income in comparison will always appear higher.
“Once maintenance and new development costs are covered, any surplus income we receive is always reinvested in NHS services here in Sheffield.
“We provide free parking for disabled patients with a blue badge, free parking at Weston Park Cancer Hospital and free parking for renal dialysis patients.
“We also have free drop-off zones for accident and emergency patients and mums in labour and there is a NHS Travel concession scheme for patients who are on low income.”
But Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, branded the charges ‘morally wrong’.
She said: “We are concerned that hospitals in England still charge patients for car parking.
“Why is it that patients in Wales and Scotland do not have to pay to park? It is a postcode lottery and a tax on sick people who sometimes struggle to pay.
“The money is never reinvested in frontline services. Hospital car parks are often managed by private contractors who take a huge percentage of the profits.
“This is morally wrong – and charging disabled people is a disgrace.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We expect all NHS organisations to follow our guidelines on car parking, including offering discounts to disabled people.
“Patients and families shouldn’t have to deal with the added stress of unfair parking charges and our guidance rightly helps the public hold the NHS to account for any unfair charges or practices.”