Health bosses in South Tyneside raked in more than £500,000 from car parking charges in the last year.
New figures show South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust collected £508,897 in fees - £346,591 of this came from patients and visitors, while £162,306 was paid by staff.
The data was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Press Association.
Since January 2014, ParkingEye has managed South Tyneside District Hospital’s car park in Harton Lane, South Shields, by using a number plate recognition system.
The Trust receives all parking payments while ParkingEye takes payments for any fines.
Health bosses say the cash is reinvested into the site and there are also a number of discount options available.
Steve Jamieson, the Trust’s director of estates and facilities,said: “The money from parking charges at South Tyneside District Hospital and our other sites is invested in maintaining our grounds and in providing a responsive security service on site for the benefit of everyone – patients, visitors and staff.
“Our charges are some of the lowest among NHS organisations in the North East.”
He added: “For patients who visit for regular treatment, or visitors who are regularly visiting ill patients, we make available pay cards, which cost £6 for a book of five, which works out at £1.20 a day.
“There are no charges for hospital visitors whose relatives are on an end of care pathway and disabled blue badge holders are exempt from car parking charges once they have registered with the Trust.”
Gazette readers have been having their say on who should have to pay parking fees.
Paul Banks wrote on our Facebook page: “Visitors and patients yes, Staff, definitely not!”
Maria Chapman added: “I don’t mind paying if it goes back to the hospital/NHS instead of some greedy contractor.”
Darren Lynton wrote: “Don’t mind paying a nominal fee. But shouldn’t have to top up if appointments are running late.
Iain Ball said: “Staff shouldn’t have to pay to park at work. As for appointments never being on time, you’re often forced to put more money on parking than is needed.”
Kelly Marie Robson added: “We got a ticket when I was in labour.”
Rachel Thompson-Chapman said: “ I certainly don’t think staff should have to pay for parking.
“If the funds went back to the NHS I would put a £1 all day maximum parking on the visitors .”