Wigan’s hospital trust made more than half a million pounds by charging its own staff to park last year.
Figures released by the NHS show Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) raked in £536,120 in the year to March from charges and penalty fines incurred by workers parking across all its sites.
English NHS trusts made a combined £70m from staff parking charges over the same period, slammed as “scandalous” and a “tax on hard-pressed” employees by unions.
But WWL chiefs hit back saying it would be wrong to subsidise employee parking to the detriment of patient services.
Most hospital staff in Wigan are expected to pay to park remotely - such as the Mesnes Park Terrace multi-storey in Wigan town centre then get a free shuttle bus to the infirmary.
Unite’s Sarah Carpenter said: “It is a scandal that NHS trusts in England have pocketed nearly £70m from staff car parking charges.
“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.”
The figures also reveal WWL made a further £1.1m from parking charges paid by patients and visitors in the same financial year, bringing its total parking income to £1.6m.
But WWL associate director of estates and facilities David Evans said: “It has always been the view of the trust board of directors that car parking charges should apply across all patients, visitors and staff groups and indeed it would be inappropriate for the trust to provide subsidised car parking to the detriment of patient services, which is always our number one priority.
“Over the past few years, WWL has invested more than £2.5m in additional car parking facilities and improvements at all of its sites. Two of our sites now have ‘pay on exit’ barrier controls which meet with guidance from the Department of Health. WWL is still investing in further improvements to car parking and is currently exploring the feasibility of further expansion of car parking at our Wigan Infirmary and Wrightington Hospital sites.
“The real costs of providing the car parking facilities, which include security services, CCTV, maintenance, lighting, business rates and the capital cost of provision of car parking in the first instance, means that the total income covers our actual costs and makes very little ‘profit.’
“We are one of the few trusts that allow visitors to park for free for 30 minutes to allow easy drop off and pick up. We have also recently reviewed car parking concessions to ensure compliance with the latest guidance and a new weekly parking pass will be made available at a discounted rate.”