Hartlepool and North Tees hospital trust most expensive in England for hour's parking
Hospital chiefs have defended their car parking arrangements after an investigation found their trust to have the highest one-hour rate in the country.
A 60-minute stay at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust costs £4, the study by the Press Association (PA) news agency found.
The study showed one in three hospitals in England put up the cost of parking last year.
Overall, trusts took £254,373,068 in 2018/19, including at least £142,958,247 from patients and visitors and £65,219,879 from staff.
That was up 10% on the £232,236,216 the year before.
A total of 7,883 patients and visitors who had used a hospital car park in the last two years were surveyed, with many saying they felt ripped off.
Overall, 47 NHS trusts increased their charges between 2017/18 and 2018/19, typically by 10%.
Responding to the report, a spokesperson for the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our parking charges are fed back into front-line services and for improvements including car park maintenance, lighting and security.
“We have two car parks at the University Hospital of North Tees and one car park at the University Hospital of Hartlepool; the visitor car parks on both sites are free for 20 minutes before charges apply.
“In addition, for visitors making recurring visits there is a seven-day multiple visit permit costing just £7 which can be used across the two sites.
“Our visitor car parks are well-maintained and well-signed, making all charges clear.”
The spokesperson added there are a number of drop-off and pick-up points that are free to park in for 20 minutes, and there is an additional car park for the University Hospital of North Tees on Hardwick Road which is also free for the first 20 minutes and then costs £2 for a stay of up to 14 hours.
The hospital sites are also on local bus routes, and are accessible by foot or bicycle.
In the PA investigation, 49% of people said no-one should have to pay for parking at hospitals.
A spokeswoman for the Patients Association said: "Charges for car parking at hospitals are a charge on people who are unwell, levied on them because they are unwell. We believe that patients should not be effectively charged for being ill.
"Practical arrangements to prevent car parks being used by other motorists can and should be installed, as they are at supermarkets, hotels and so on."
The mot expensive - and cheapest - hospital trusts in England for a one-hour stay.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust - £4
The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust- £3.80
Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust - £3.60
Hereford County Hospital - £3.50
North Bristol NHS Trust - £3.50
Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - £3.50
Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust - £1
Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - £1
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - £1
St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust - £1
Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - £1.10