Fury as Â£608k is raised in parking charges at South Tyneside District Hospital
Car parking charges at South Tyneside District Hospital have been branded 'a disgrace' after new figures revealed health bosses raised more than Â£600,000 in a year.
That figure - £608,140 for 2016/17 - includes £224,377 from the hospital Trust’s own staff while they work and is an income increase of £99,246 on its income from car parks during 2015/16.
The figures emerged following a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association.
South Tyneside councillor, Coun John McCabe, hit out at the figures, saying: “It’s a disgrace, These charges are just a cash cow.
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“Almost a quarter of million from the staff? It’s ludicrous. Compared to other Trusts, the parking charges are reasonable, but they are not needed. There are other ways of financing hospitals.”
He added: “There needs to be a massive overhaul of the NHS, and I believe we have got to start with our own National Drugs Agency.
“The agency would fund research and, when drugs are produced, they are sold on to the NHS at a small profit, which is reinvested in the NHS and into nurses training.
“It’s sustainable and it’s common sense. Then these car parking charges wouldn’t be necessary.”
The Royal College of Nursing has also hit out at staff having to pay to park while they work.
Gerry O’Dwyer, senior employment relations adviser, said: “Hospitals run on the goodwill of staff but hefty parking charges at many show that doesn’t go both ways.
“For some nurses, especially those who work night shifts, public transport isn’t an option. They work around the clock to care for patients and should not be over-charged for doing their jobs. We need reasonable car parking provision with reasonable and affordable charges.
“The Government isn’t giving the NHS the funding it needs but struggling hospitals should not try to make money off their staff.”
Steve Jamieson, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s director of estates and facilities, said: “Like all NHS Trusts, we operate a car parking system for our staff, patients and visitors at South Tyneside District Hospital and our other sites, and our charges remain amongst the lowest in the NHS.
“Any income generated is used to ensure the upkeep and maintenance of the car parking facilities and in providing a responsive security service on site for the benefit of everyone – patients, visitors and staff.
“As a gesture of goodwill during the festive season, we have recently provided free parking at the hospital for all visitors and patients on all three public holidays - Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
“We know that car parking forms an important part of the overall experience that patients have with us and this is something we are actively thinking about as we look to the future.”