1. ITV Report

Leeds tops bill for hospital parking fines

Fines for patients, visitors and staff Credit: PA

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has netted itself almost £80,000 in car parking fines over the last year, according to new figures.

The data was collected by the Press Association, which asked some 120 NHS trusts across England to give figures on parking charges and fines under the Freedom of Information Act - 89 provided responses.

Data on parking fines, provided by 27 trusts, showed they made £2,300,208 in fines over a four year period - with Leeds earning the most from fining patients, visitors and staff on hospital grounds, at £78,595.

In 2015/16 alone, £635,387 was made from fining patients, visitors and staff on hospital grounds.

Leeds: almost £80,000 raised in fines

The figures also revealed that NHS hospitals across England have made more than £120 million in car park charges over the last year.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said it was unfair that hospital parking in Wales and Scotland was largely free but that patients in England were made to pay.

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.

– Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association

Patients and families shouldn't have to deal with the added stress of unfair parking charges - we expect all NHS organisations to follow our guidelines and put concessions in place for those who most need help, including disabled people, carers and staff who work shifts.

– Department of Health spokeswoman

A spokesperson for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said it was one of the largest NHS trusts in the country treating around 1.5 million patients every year.

Overall it had over 5,000 car parking spaces across six hospital sites - and that with over 1.6 million vehicles on site each year, the figures about income from parking fines should be seen in that context.

It is important that we effectively monitor our car parks to ensure that spaces remain available for patients, visitors and staff, not those wishing to park for other reasons.

People who misuse our car parks will be dealt with just as they would, for example, in a local authority-owned facility. Leeds General Infirmary in particular is in a city centre location where all parking space is at a premium. This makes the car parks very attractive to non-hospital users, and over half of our annual penalty charge notices are issued on this one site. The Trust does not believe that the funding we receive for patients’ care should subsidise the cost of providing and maintaining car parks.

It should be stressed that some groups of patients and visitors are entitled to a permit exempting them from charges. These include people receiving cancer treatment, people with a family member who is critically ill, as well as parents of children who are staying overnight in hospital.

– Spokesperson for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust