PATIENTS and visitors to Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital shelled out almost £420,000 to use its car parks between January and October this year.
The figure, revealed as the result of a Freedom of Information request, has been criticised by some – but hospital bosses have defended it saying the money to maintain the car park would otherwise have to be diverted away from patient care.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust director of facilities Mike Speakman said: “There are significant costs associated with the car park such as electricity, business rates, capital charges, resurfacing and general maintenance
“The Trust does not receive any funding to cover these costs so to use money from patient care income would take money away from clinical services.
“A recent review by the coalition government determined that hospital car parking facilities should be paid for by those that use them, not by taxation.
“We cannot justify using money intended for patient care to pay for car parking, and so we seek to recover the costs incurred in providing car parking facilities from those that use them.”
Mr Speakman pointed out that there is free parking for oncology patients receiving regular treatment, collection of prescriptions and hearing aid batteries, parents attending the special care baby unit, clergy visiting parishioners, following bereavement and adults accompanying children for emergency treatment.
And he said patients on certain benefits can claim travel expenses, including car parking, and blue badge holders do not have to pay.
But Taxpayers’ Alliance campaign manager Robert Oxley said: “The Pilgrim’s car park seems to be raking it in, NHS parking charges shouldn’t be used as a revenue raiser.
“Taxpayers have already paid for the car park’s construction, they shouldn’t have to fork out when they are ill or visiting a loved one.
“The NHS wouldn’t need to charge patients and visitors so much to park if they weren’t wasting huge amounts of cash on wasteful spending.”
Parking for up to one hour costs £1.20, with one to four hours costing £3 and four to six hours costing £3.50.
Parking for more than six hours costs patients and their visitors £3.50 and non-patients £10..