Call for free parking after Doncaster hospital trust rakes in nearly £3m

Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

Residents are calling for Doncaster hospital bosses to make parking free after it emerged they raked in nearly £3 million from charges over the last four years.

New figures show Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has made around £2.7m from parking charges at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Mexborough's Montagu Hospital and Bassetlaw Hospital since 2013.

The trust raised over £956, 000 in 2016/17 - almost double what they made in the previous 12 months at around £552, 000 - and critics have branded the policy a 'tax on sickness'.

A number of residents have now voiced their concern over the charges on Facebook with the majority calling for hospital chiefs to change policy and make it free to park at hospitals or lower charges.

Louise Barlow said: "You shouldn't have to pay. When I had my last baby we were there too long and got fined. Instead of enjoying bringing our new baby home, we had a fine to think about."

Dean Buckley added: "Should be free parking as we are all being ripped off with charges."

Chris Tucker branded the charges "disgusting" and called for a free parking pass to be introduced.

Pete Jones said it is "harsh to charge people" but added it is a difficult one as "how do you stop people who aren't actually visiting the hospital from using it?"

Gary Forster believes the solution is to build a new multi-storey car park on Town Fields and introduce "reasonable parking fees."

Malcolm Barrass agreed that a new multi-storey car park in the area would he helpful.

However, Shane Johnson praised the hospital's outpatients park and ride scheme as "excellent."

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb previously branded the charges a "tax on sickness."

The data was revealed as part of a wider Freedom of Information request which showed NHS hospitals nationally made a record £174.5 million.

The trust was keen to point out that they did not make any money from parking fines over the last four years.

Elsewhere in South Yorkshire, hospitals in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley together made more than £5m last year alone.

A spokesperson for the Doncaster trust said disabled people who hold Blue Badges are allowed to park for free.

They added: "Doncaster Royal Infirmary also offers a free park and ride option. Patients and visitors can park for free in a car park at Doncaster Racecourse and arrive at the hospital on a free shuttle bus which operates every 20 minutes.

"We also offer concessionary parking permits for patients and their primary visitors who have to use the car parks frequently to attend hospital.

"For a seven day period the concessionary parking permit has a one off payment of £8.50 and can be used in any of the trust's public car parks where charges apply."