Health trust rakes in £1m from parking fees

Whiston Hospital car park

Whiston Hospital car park

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A STAGGERING £1.1m was raised by parking charges at St Helens and Whiston Hospitals over the past year, the Reporter can today reveal.

Yet incredibly NONE of the cash made by charging folk to park is spent directly on health services.

Instead the cash generated by the ever-controversial tariffs is ploughed back into security and management of the parking facilities themselves.

Parking charges at local hospitals have been an unpalatable, if accepted, way of life in St Helens for visitors and patients for more than a decade.

Visitors are charged £10 for a six-hour stay at Whiston’s multi-storey and a similar fee for parking at St Helens Hospital.

Former mayor John Beirne, who now runs the Action in the Community Team, said he was shocked not one penny of the cash raised went to patient services.

However, a spokeswoman for the St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust insisted that car parking, and the security of vehicles while parked there, remained a paramount part of its provision.

The figures obtained by the St Helens Reporter show that during the 2011/12 financial year the trust collected revenue of £1,116,495 from car parking fees across their sites.

The money is spent on funding security of the car parks and their management contracts; operating CCTV and the maintenance of the car park machines.

Mr Beirne said that during his long career in local politics he’d protested several times over the imposition car parking fees.

He said: “When my mother was taken ill a while ago, she was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. I was following behind in my car and at one point I had to stop thinking about my mother and starting worrying about whether I had enough change for the machine - that’s not right.

“I’ve protested a number of times over this, and on one occasion we were chased off the hospital premises by security, so I’m well aware that they employ security guards.

“But I think people will be quite shocked that they have raised this much money and that not one bean goes to patient care.”

The hospital trust confirmed that the £1m annual revenue related to car parking charges from staff, patients and visitors.

A spokeswoman added: “The trust aims to keep its car parking charges to a minimum, with fees that are amongst the lowest in the region.

“Patient/visitor charges have remained static since 2006; we compare these against other local hospital charges on an annual basis.

“The trust makes no profit from the revenue of the 15 patient, visitor and staff car parks across both hospital sites. All income generated is reinvested in facilities, this includes security costs, maintenance fees and estate payments.”

Mr Beirne said that during his long career in local politics he’d protested several times over the imposition car parking fees.

He said: “When my mother was taken ill a while ago, she was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. I was following behind in my car and at one point I had to stop thinking about my mother and starting worrying about whether I had enough change for the machine – that’s not right.

“I’ve protested a number of times over this, and on one occasion we were chased off the hospital premises.

“I think people will be quite shocked they have raised this much money and not one bean goes to patient care.”

The hospital trust confirmed that the £1m annual revenue related to car parking charges from staff, patients and visitors.

A spokeswoman added: “The trust aims to keep its car parking charges to a minimum.

“Patient/visitor charges have remained static since 2006; we compare these against other local hospital charges on an annual basis.

“The trust makes no profit from the revenue of the 15 patient, visitor and staff car parks.”