Brighton’s main hospital trust made more than £1.2 million from parking in the past financial year, according to a report by the Press Association (PA).
This was far from the highest figure, according to the news agency which sent freedom of information requests to NHS trusts up and down the country.
The Heart of England NHS Trust made more than £4.8 million while Brighton’s neighbouring trusts Western Sussex Hospitals made £1.65 million and East Sussex Healthcare made more than £1.3 million.
PA said that 89 trusts responded, including Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, and the Princess Royal Hospital, in Haywards Heath.
BSUH was 50th on PA’s list of trusts by the amount earned from parking – and 23rd out of 27 on its list the amount generated from parking fines. The total for fines was £5,303 in 2015-16 and £36,312 over the past four years.
The Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy criticised hospital parking charges as a tax on the sick, injured and vulnerable.
She pointed out that hospital parking in Scotland and Wales was mostly free and called for English NHS trusts to cap or scrap their charges.
But the BSUH website says: “Onsite pay-and-display car parking is available, however, it is over-subscribed and long waits are common.
“There is limited short-term on-street pay-and-display parking in the vicinity of the hospital.
“Concessions are available for cancer centre patients, patients who are in hospital for a long period and their relatives and carers. Parking is free for specific patient groups such as those undergoing regular dialysis.
“Income from car parking charges is re-invested in the management and maintenance of the Trust’s car parks and in green travel plan initiatives, including the inter-site bus service.”
Concerns have been expressed in the past that commuters and shoppers would take advantage of unregulated parking.
And if parking was free, the lost revenue would have to found from other sources at a time when the trust’s finances were tight. It is currently facing a £60 million deficit in 2016-17.