1. ITV Report

Trust made more than £1 million in car parking charges

Trust made more than £1 million in car parking charges Photo: Dave Thompson/PA

A hospital trust in the West has been accused of levying a "tax on sick people" after it was revealed to be making more than £1.6million a year from car parking fees.

The Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust was listed as one of 33 trusts which earned between £1 million and £2 million a year.

The investigation showed that year on year, hospitals across England are raising increasing amounts of money from staff, patients and visitors, including those who are disabled.

Hospitals are also handing over millions of pounds to private firms to run their car parks for them, and allowing some to cash in on parking fines. Others use the money to pay private firms under a private finance initiative.

Amount raised by the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
Credit: Chris Radburn/PA

Seven NHS trusts earned more than £3 million in 2014/15 from charges, a further eight made more than £2 million a year, while a further 33 earned more than £1 million a year.

Almost half of all trusts also charged disabled people for parking in some or all of their disabled spaces.

We are concerned that hospitals in England still charge patients for car parking.

Why is it that patients in Wales and Scotland do not have to pay to park? It is a postcode lottery and a tax on sick people who sometimes struggle to pay.

The money is never reinvested in frontline services. Hospital car parks are often managed by private contractors who take a huge percentage of the profits.

This is morally wrong - and charging disabled people is a disgrace.

– Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association

The figures come after a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association.

We expect all NHS organisations to follow our guidelines on car parking, including offering discounts to disabled people.

Patients and families shouldn't have to deal with the added stress of unfair parking charges and our guidance rightly helps the public hold the NHS to account for any unfair charges or practices.

– Department of Health spokeswoman