Patients, staff and visitors charged millions to park at hospitals in Sheffield
Government policy on hospital parking has been criticised after it was revealed that hospitals in Sheffield raised millions of pounds through charging staff, patients and visitors to park last year.
NHS Digital data shows Sheffield Teaching Hospitals made around £3.3 million through parking charges and penalty fines in the year from April 2019 to March 2020.
Of that, £2.3 million was paid by patients and visitors, while £984,246 was raked in through charging staff to park.
Trade union GMB said it is ‘sickening’ that nurses, midwives and cleaners in many trusts across the country have had to shell out money to park at their place of work, as it called on ministers to scrap parking charges for workers altogether.
Across England, NHS trusts raised £289 million from parking charges – nearly a third of which came from staff parking, generating £90 million over the year.
Trade union GMB said charging NHS staff to park at their place of work was ‘disgraceful’.
Rachel Harrison, the union's national officer, said: "Government cuts have inflicted a heavy toll on the NHS, but trusts should not be clawing that cash back by charging the people we rely on to keep us alive."
The Government announced last year that it would cover the costs of providing free car parking to NHS staff working in hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. However, it said the scheme would end in all but ‘certain circumstances’ as the pandemic eased over the summer.
But NHS Providers, a membership organisation for hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services, said some trusts had already reinstated charges for workers to ensure there were enough spaces for staff and patients as people avoid public transport during the pandemic.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "In March, the Government committed to making hospital car parking free for NHS staff for the duration of the pandemic and is providing additional money to NHS trusts to cover the cost of implementing this.
"Any surplus income generated from hospital car parks not used to fund the provision of car parking, such as security and maintenance, must be reinvested into frontline care."
Andrew Jones, director of facilities at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “We have over two million visitors to the Trust’s five hospitals each year and almost 4000 car parking spaces that are used several times a day by patients, visitors and staff. Whilst we recognise that car parking charges are an extra cost for staff and patients, we have to provide car parking and so if we don’t charge, then we would have to cover the costs from other budgets.
"This would potentially mean less for patient care services. Once maintenance and new development costs are covered, any surplus income we receive is always reinvested in the NHS here in Sheffield. We try hard to keep costs to a minimum and have always offered free parking for a number of concessionary groups and discounted rates for longer stay patients.
"Since the start of the pandemic we stopped all parking charges for staff and visitors and that remains the current position. We have not increased parking charges since 2014 for staff either. We are awaiting further national guidance on car parking charges moving forward.”