Recent figures have shown that University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) made a profit of around £3 million from charging staff, patients and visitors parking fees.
Solent NHS trust does not charge staff members for parking, but did make £211, 285 from patient and visitor car parking fees.
The UHS is made up of Southampton General Hospital, Princess Anne Hospital, Southampton Children’s Hospital, Royal South Hants and New Forest Birth Centre. Last year’s figures revealed that the trust made £1,327,478 from staff members and a whopping £3,014,890 from patients and visitors, meaning that the trust was one of six across the country to make more than £3m from parking charges.
The UHS states that concession rates are available for eligible patients and visitors, whilst staff members are assisted by several schemes. It also asserts that all profits made from car parking fees are directly re-invested into the hospital for car park maintenance or front line services. UHS currently charges £2.30 for up to an hour, whereas parking at Solent NHS Trust costs £1.50 per hour.
However, there have been several complaints about charging patients, staff and visitors for parking, and watchdogs have described this action as “morally wrong”. Unison South East Head of Health Simon Bolton stated that “It’s morally wrong to be making a profit from staff who are being charged to do their jobs, providing life-saving treatment to the community or helping the vulnerable. Public transport isn’t an option for those working in the early hours.”
In response, Healthwatch Southampton chairman Harry Dymond stated “Healthwatch Southampton would ideally like to see free car parking at all hospitals but given the state of finances in the NHS, understands the need to charge.”