Five Surrey-based NHS Trusts, in addition to 48 others across England, have admitted to increasing their parking charges during the 2017/18 financial year, a Guardian investigation concluded.
A total of 124 trusts across the country responded to freedom of information requests regarding their parking fess, of which 53 (43 per cent) reported an increase in prices in the past year for both visitors and staff.
Of those 53, five are based in or around the Surrey area: Frimley Health, Kingston, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare, Epsom & St Helier and Royal Surrey.
“These car parking charges are a tax on the sick. The next Labour government will axe them,” said Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social care Secretary.
Of those based in Surrey, the most significant fluctuation came from the Frimley Health Trust, which made £4,421,862 over the course of the year from charging patients, visitors and staff for parking – more than a £300,000 increase from the previous year.
This information emerges after Royal Surrey County Hospital announced in October 2017 that it would be introducing a £4 flat rate per visit for blue badge holders, who could previously park for free.
The hospital’s Director of Human Resources and Business Support Alf Turner said: “In an ideal world we would not have to charge anyone.
“The revenue from car parking is used to provide and maintain our car parks and any additional income is put back into patient care.”
Kingston Hospital introduced similar measures in February 2018, resulting in anger and frustration from residents and further claims that the hospital was “breaking the law”.
Data published by NHS Digital in October last year shows trusts made more than £226m in 2017-18 from parking-related charges.