A major Birmingham hospital has made £1.7million from patients and staff in parking charges over the last five years — with its own staff contributing over 20% of income in the last year.
The amount collected by the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (ROH) for parking fees in 2017-18 was £386,595, 4% up on the previous financial year.
The majority of this, over £300,000, came from visitors, while staff paid over £80,000.
The parking charges now contribute £1 in every £200 of annual income for the Trust as a whole.
The Patients Association, which represents hospital patients, said:
“Charges for car parking at hospitals are a charge on people who are unwell, levied on them because they are unwell.
“We believe that patients should not be effectively charged for being ill. Parking at hospitals for patients, carers and visitors should be provided free of charge. Practical arrangements to prevent car parks being used by other motorists can and should be installed, as they are at supermarkets, hotels and so on”
People with a disability charged to park
The hospital is facing additional criticism for charging ‘blue badge’ holders to park. People with a disability who hold a ‘blue badge’ can normally park in designated spaces or without penalty.
Nationally, fewer than 14% of hospital sites that have designated disabled parking charge for disabled parking, according to NHS Estates figures.
At the ROH, however, blue badge holders face a minimum charge of £3.80 to park
One woman who visits the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (ROH) regularly, but who didn’t want to give her name, said:
“I’m a regular visitor to the hospital with my husband, who has the blue badge. There are very few blue badge parking spaces, we carry cards not cash, and this morning my phone wasn’t charged when we came out so I have no mobile.
“We got to the hospital and found a notice on the machine that says that it’s not taking card payments. The [parking attendant]told us to walk through the hospital to find somewhere to get change place, which then means we’re going to be late for the appointment which then has a knock-on effect on everybody else…”
‘Concession’ for blue badge holders
Only 21 (6%) out of the 336 parking spaces at ROH are specifically designated as disabled parking spaces in that they are longer and wider than other spaces.
The ROH does operate a concession for blue badge holders which allows them to stay up to 5 hours when paying for 2 hours. The hospital, however, only advertises this at the payment station, despite Department of Health & Social Care guidance that recommends concessions should be “well publicised including at car park entrances, wherever payment is made and inside the hospital.”
The hospital also charges parking penalties, in contravention of the Department of Health & Social Care guidance.
ROH said the parking charge income was used to pay costs across the hospital:
“Once the cost of providing the service is met, any residual income is reinvested to support the operational workings of the Trust, including the maintenance and upkeep of the car parks and hospital grounds”
The hospital pays the parking management firm APCOA an annual fixed fee to manage the car parking system. For March 2018 – February 2019 APCOA received a fee of over £60,000.
The ROH underwent a £1.1m revamp in 2008 to help address their parking problems, including creating a new parking area. The Communications Manager was asked why the hospital now charges for parking but did not respond.