According to new figures, NHS hospitals made more than £174 million from car park charges in the 12 months.
The Press Association asked 120 NHS trusts across England to give figures on parking charges and fines which revealed a record £174 million was made from charging patients, visitors and staff to park in 2016/17, a 6% increase on the previous year.
However, overall totals are likely to be significantly higher as some of the largest trusts did not provide figures – with only 89 of the 120 releasing the information.
The majority of NHS trusts claims that some or all of the money made was put back into patient care or spent on maintaining car parks or grounds but a significant amount of NHS trust hand money to private organisations.
Over half of trusts are making more than £1m in car park fees every year, with almost half of them even charging disabled people to park in disabled spaces.
While the majority of hospitals in England charge both patients and staff, parking remains largely free at hospitals in Scotland and Wales.
Katherine Murphy, Chief executive of the Patients Association, said it was unfair that parking was free at hospitals in Wales and Scotland but not those in England.
“The NHS is clearly underfunded but the onus on meeting the funding crisis should most certainly not be shouldered by the sick, injured and vulnerable.”
“Hospitals run on the goodwill of staff but hefty parking charges at many show the feeling doesn’t go both ways.
“For some nurses, especially those who work night shifts, public transport isn’t an option. They work around the clock to care for patients and should not be over-charged for doing their jobs. Nursing staff are £3,000 worse off than in 2010 and can do without these costs. We need reasonable car parking provision with reasonable and affordable charges.
“The Government isn’t giving the NHS the funding it needs but struggling hospitals should not try to make money off their staff.”
Policial parties, such as the Liberal Democrats have criticised hospital car parking charges as a “tax on the sick”. Labour has said it was committed to ending them.