West Suffolk Hospital nets more than £1.3 million from car parking charges

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds ANL-150319-095542001

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds ANL-150319-095542001

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West Suffolk Hospital made more than £1.3 million from car parking charges in the past year.

The NHS Foundation Trust was one of 89 trusts across England to respond to a Freedom of Information Request by the Press Association.

The figures revealed that NHS hospitals made more than £120 million in the year 2015/16 with more than half charging disabled visitors and also making thousands through parking fines.

The trend towards rising fees has been criticised by Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association.

“The shocking reality about car parking charges is that they are taking money from the sick and vulnerable to top up NHS coffers,” she said. “We take a very clear line that car parking fees need to be scrapped or strictly capped.”

In November last year, it was revealed charges at West Suffolk Hospital will also rise further during 2017.

This includes a 21 per cent rise to £4 for two hours and a 66 per cent rise to £8 for four hours. Blue badge holders will also be charged the same rates as others to help pay for disabled access improvements.

The hospital trust is investing £2 million in creating 400 extra spaces and other improvements to ease specific patient and staff parking issues at the site, in early 2017.

The free period rises from 20 minutes to 30 at the back of the hospital, while the next hour’s price also drops 39 per cent to £2.

“West Suffolk Hospital is in a really difficult position,” said Cllr Sarah Stamp, who represents the Southgate ward for the borough and the Hardwick division for the county council. “They simply need more money and every public sector organisation these days has to think more commercially.”

Borough Cllr Julia Wakelam, who represents the Risbygate ward, said: “Rather than attack the hospitals, a way forward could be to look into ways to fund those people who can’t afford the parking charges.

“This could be through different schemes linked to prescriptions, benefits or even bursaries.”

Funds from parking charges at West Suffolk Hospital rose from £1,084,986 in 2013/14, to £1,308,385 in 2014/15 and £1,345,358 in 2015/16.

Jan Bloomfield, director of workforce and communications, said: “All income from parking comes straight to the trust to meet the cost of running our car parks.

“It also contributes to any improvements to parking we might make, with any additional income being invested directly into patient care.”