FIGURES have shown that Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) collected more than £1,250,000 in parking charges in the last financial year.

The figure published by the Press Association, showed NHS hospitals across England earned more than £174 million in parking fees in 2016/17, a six per cent rise compared to the year before.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester, and Andover War Memorial Hospital, said: “The money raised from parking charges across the Trust is invested in maintaining the car parks and making it as easy as possible for patients and visitors to park. Any surplus funds are reinvested in the Trust, helping us to provide the best possible care for our patients.

“We regularly review our parking charges and recently introduced a new tariff, which includes a free period of up to 30 minutes for drivers dropping patients off for appointments.

"Free parking is also available for certain patients, visitors and carers at all three of our hospitals. These include patients attending for chemotherapy, visitors to patients in intensive care or our neonatal units and carers staying overnight with children."

The figures emerged following a series Freedom of Information (FOI) requests which asked NHS trusts to reveal these figures.

They also showed that 56 of NHS trusts also charge disabled people for parking.

A total of 111 out of 120 NHS trusts responded to the FOI requests – The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, in the West Midlands was the greatest earner of parking income, making £4,865,000 in the year.

In the UK, figures show that it was most expensive to park at Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, where the cost of a one-hour stay was £4.

The FOI requests also revealed that the trusts which replied made £947,568 in 2016/17 from fining patients, visitors and staff on hospital grounds – a 32% increase on the £716,385 taken the previous year.