ABOUT £3.5m was paid by patients and staff for parking at hospitals across Oxfordshire last year.
New figures reveal that charges at hospitals like Oxford’s John Radcliffe and the Churchill brought in 20 per cent more in 2013/14 than the previous year for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (OUHT).
The patient, visitor and staff income – which came after a hike in charges – was up from £2.9m in 2012/13 and £3.1m in 2011/12.
But after costs, the trust recorded a £690,000 surplus to re-invest into services, down from £918,000 in 2011/12 and £897,000 in 2012/13.
Trust spokeswoman Susan Brown said its surplus fell because of a rise in costs such as maintenance of surfaces and machines and staff pay.
She said: “Charges are levied in order to cover the trust’s costs in maintaining its car parks and also in order to manage the car parks.
“If there were no charges/management at all, the parking facilities would be inundated as there would be nothing to stop staff and the general public parking in all the public car parks and people using our car parks as a park-and-ride service to the city centre.
“It enables the trust to protect hospital car parks for patient and visitor use.”
She said the surplus went back into the trust but could not reveal any specific things it has paid for.
Charges went up last June for the first time since 2006 with parking for three to four hours rising by 87 per cent from £3 to £5.60.
Limited free disabled parking is available and regular attendees at radiotherapy, chemotherapy, renal dialysis, dermatology and transplant can get free parking. Discretionary permits are also available.
Staff who are entitled to an annual parking permit are charged up to £345 per annum depending on salary (the higher the salary, the higher the cost of the permit).
Entitlement depends on a number of criteria, including where staff live.
Staff who are not entitled to an annual parking permit can buy up to five one-day passes per month. Each one-day pass costs £2.30.
Revenue generated by parking goes back into the Trust’s general budget.
Mrs Brown said: “No further increases are planned at this time.”
She said council planning restrictions mean the car parks cannot expand any more. Parking at sites – also including the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (NOC) and Banbury’s Horton General – is free from 8pm to 8am TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: “Taxpayers have already paid for the hospital and the car park, so hospital parking fees should be abolished.
“If they insist on charging, the price of visiting relatives or popping in for a check-up shouldn’t go up because the Trust has allowed costs to spiral.”
Dermot Roaf, vice chairman of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, the official county NHS watchdog, said: “One has to remember that the reason for the charges is not to make money but to stop people parking.”
He said: “If you don’t charge enough you have total chaos.”
The JR has 1,624 staff spaces and 743 for the public; the Churchill has 627 for staff and 410 for the public; the Horton has 338 for staff and 239 for the public and the NOC has 280 for staff and 205 for the public.
Oxford East Labour MP Andrew Smith said: “I think most people regard them as an unwelcome but unavoidable fact of life.
“They know the hospitals are strapped for cash, and that parking elsewhere in Oxford is expensive too.”
Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood failed to respond to requests for a comment.
- Up to 30 minutes: free (if vehicle exits within this period)
- 30 minutes to 1 hour: £1.40
- 1-2 hours: £2.80
- 2-3 hours: £4.20
- 3-4 hours: £5.60
- More than 4 hours: £7
- 8pm-8am: Free
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