Hospitals raise £2million from car parking charges

    The Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust more than doubled the profits it makes from hospital car parking over last year.

    After taking in more than £2million from its two hospitals at Pembury and Maidstone, the trust made a year-on-year profit of 24 per cent on its parking facilities.

    The news comes on the heels of the cash-strapped trust being placed in special financial measures in July because of a £23million budget deficit.

    It has now been ranked in the top 20 of NHS Trusts for parking revenue across the country, according to an investigation by the Press Association.

    A Freedom of Information submission revealed that the two hospitals picked up £2,070,045 in car parking charges, putting it in 14th place out of 89 trusts that responded to the FOI request.

    This constitutes an increase of £401,265 over 12 months – compared to rises of £153,949 for the previous year and £200,000 for the two years before that.

    When Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury opened in 2011, it cost £1 for the first hour of parking, which has now increased to £2.

    However, the Trust refutes suggestions from the report that profits accrued from such charges are not being ploughed back into the health service – or that they are being siphoned off by private companies running the facility.

    The day-to-day running of the two car parks is carried out by a private company, Car Parking Management Ltd, but they do not profit from the revenue.

    “All revenue from hourly parking charges is retained by MTW NHS,” a spokesperson said. “Any net surplus from the income received from car parks is paid into the Trust’s general account and then used to support the activity of the Trust, across the full range of services that the Trust provides.”

    Running costs are deducted from the total, consisting of security, maintenance and lighting, and the provision of green travel initiatives including staff and public bus services.

    In 2012-13 the Trust made a profit of around £140,000 at each of the hospital sites but it insists: “This surplus money is being invested in improvement of our car parks at both hospitals, to benefit patients.

    “Maidstone Hospital has been granted planning permission to create 180 further car parking spaces which will cost around £750,000 in total.”

    One of the main grievances relating to the £120million made by the NHS on parking nationwide is that the trusts do not offer reduced parking for the disabled and regular visitors such as cancer patients and those on dialysis.

    MTW admits: “Disabled drivers pay the same tariffs as all other car park users and park in the same car parks using designate spaces. The Trust is unable to separate the income received from disabled drivers.”

    However, the Trust does offer significant concessions for cancer patients for radiotherapy and chemotherapy, those on dialysis and visitors to intensive care, maternity and children’s departments. After 10 days, all parking charges can be claimed back for any visitor.

    All revenue from Parking Charge Notices is retained by the enforcement company First Parking LLP although this is set to change when signage has been paid, when it will become a 80/20 split on revenue between First Parking and MTW.

    Car park revenue has increased

    Year                Income           Increase         % rise

    2011-12         £1,113,700

    2012-13         £1,313,892    +£200,192     17.98

    2013-14         £1,514,831    +£200,939     15.29

    2014-15         £1,668,780    +£153,949     10.16

    2015-16         £2,070,045    +£401,265     24.05