NHS Trusts made almost £70 million by charging its staff to park last year, it has been revealed.
New figures released by NHS Digital show that trusts across the UK raked in a total of £69.5 million in 2017/18 from charges and penalty fines incurred by NHS workers.
The figures have caused outrage and the charges staff are being forced to pay has been described as a “scandal”.
Health worker union Unite, which represents around 100,000 members of staff were outraged at the “scandalous figures.
The union said that the parking fees amounted to a “tax on hard-pressed” employees.
Sarah Carpenter, national officer for health at the union, said: “It is a scandal that NHS trusts in England have pocketed nearly £70m from staff car parking charges.
“Such a large figure will take a large chunk out of the gains in the current NHS pay package which saw most staff get a pay rise of 6.5% over the next three years.
“This pernicious trend is replicated by financially squeezed trusts across England, our members are being used as an extra income stream for these trusts.
“We would like a situation where dedicated NHS staff, who don’t earn a fortune, don’t have to pay to park their cars to go to work to look after the sick, the vulnerable and the injured 365 days a year.”
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the council chair for the BMA, shared a similar sentiment describing the charges as “unacceptable.”
Patients and visitors charges also raked in the trusts £157 million in the same financial year.
This takes the total earnings from car parking to over £226 million, however, the figures represent the gross income earned by the NHS and do not take into account its own costs for providing car parking.
The Patients Associate slammed the charged claiming they were “a charge on people who are unwell, levied on them because they are unwell”.
However, chief executive Rachel Power said she understood that they were a means for hospitals to generate revenue.
She added that hospitals are under “immense financial pressure.”
She continued: “The top priority for any new NHS funding should be patient care.
“At a time when patients are receiving undignified and unsafe care on hospital corridors, car parking charges are not the top priority, undesirable though they may be.”
Parking charges are determined by individual trusts who work out how much each patients staff and visitors should have to pay.
There is also guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care which highlights how individuals NHS organisations can be fair.
A spokeswoman for NHS Improvement said income generated was used to pay the costs of providing parking, while excess funds were put into clinical services.
She continued: “As we develop the long-term plan for the NHS, it is right that trusts continue to develop their commercial income opportunities.
“This is so that they can maintain their services and ensure they can provide patients with high quality care, both now and in future.”