NHS hospitals made a record-breaking £174 million in car parking fees last year.
Trusts across England raised the eye watering sum by charging (and fining) patients, visitors and staff, according to a Press Association investigation.
The £174,526,970 made in 2016/17 was an increase of 6% on the year before, which is a trend that has worried opposition parties.
Labour again vowed to abolish hospital car parking charges after seeing the numbers, and the Liberal Democrats declared the charges a ‘tax on sickness’.
Shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: ‘Hospital parking charges are an entirely unfair and unnecessary burden, which disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people using our health service.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb added: ‘The vast sums of money that hospitals are making from parking charges reveal the hidden cost of healthcare faced by many patients and their families.
The study collected data from 111 NHS trusts across England that responded to a request under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
In total 40 of them provided data on parking fines, showing they made £947,568 in 2016/17 from fining patients, visitors and staff on hospital grounds.
Around half of the hospitals also revealed they charged disabled people for parking, which was more than last year.
Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, charged most per hour at £4, followed by Hereford County Hospital (£3.50 for a one-hour stay), Bristol Royal Infirmary (£3.40) and Northampton General (£3.20).
Approximately two-thirds of trusts that responded made more than £1 million in car park fees every year, with some also handing hundreds of thousands of pounds to private firms to run their car parks.
Several hospitals hit back at the idea the revenues were obscene by claiming their size meant their intake was naturally higher and they also said they invested money back into patient care.
Hospitals that made the most from car parking fees in 2016/17
Details of parking income from patients/visitors/staff, plus income from fines, and whether they charge for disabled parking.
Heart of England
£4,865,000 in 2016/17
£4,841,108 in 2015/16
£4,628,000 in 2013/14
Frimley Health NHS Trust
£3,946,312 in 2016/17
£3,950,312 in 2015/16
£3,353,931 in 2013/14
Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
£3,918,587 in 2016/17
£3,766,497 in 2015/16
Fines £9,604 in 2016/17, £8,298 in 2015/16
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
£3,620,368 in 2016/17
£3,213,379 in 2015/16
£3,677,242 in 2013/14
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
£3,073,222 in 2016/17
£2,801,117 in 2015/16
£2,567,503 in 2013/14
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
£3,706,845 in 2016/17
£3,452,812 in 2015/16
£3,541,880 in 2013/14
Parking fines: £171,011 in 2016/17, £81,914 in 215/16
John Radcliffe Hospital – Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
£3,228,301 in 2016/17
£2,821,444 in 2015/16
£2,214,378 in 2013/14
Parking fines: £42,616 in 2016, £44,878 in 2015
University Hospital Southampton
£3,730,000 in 2016/17
£3,710,000 in 2015/16
£3,506,000 in 2013/14
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