Poll: Ipswich Hospital’s car parking income tops £4.1million over past three years

Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich Hospital - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Hospital has raked in more than £4.1million in car parking charges over the past three years, it can be revealed today.

Figures released following a Freedom of Information request show the trust collected £1,472,887 in income from parking charges from both staff and visitors in 2013/14 compared to £1,341,621 the previous year. A total of £1,363,124 was brought in during 2011/12.

The increase comes after Ipswich Hospital scrapped its cheaper parking rate - doubling the minimum cost of a visit to £2 - last October.

Jan Ingle, from Ipswich Hospital, said all money received from parking charges is re-invested in improving and maintaining car parks throughout the hospital site or to improve patient care.

Parking at the Heath Road site costs a minimum of £2 for two hours and £7 for more than four hours up to 24 hours.

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The trust also offers concessionary long-stay visitor charges at £4 for three days and £7 for seven days while patients, who receive regular radiotherapy, oncology, physiotherapy and phototherapy, pay £3 for 10 visits.

Mrs Ingle added: “As a hospital, we get paid for the care we provide but we don’t get any money to either look after car parking or improve it.

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“And because we need to make sure the carparks are safe and the pavements and walkways are also safe, the income we receive from car parking charges is channelled into those areas. If we have any money left, that goes into patient care.

“We have to charge for car parking at the moment because we have no other way of making those improvements.”

It comes as the trust has spent around £100,000 in resurfacing the car park, which has around 1,200 spaces, and creating more bays as well as dedicated spaced for patients who come to the hospital on a daily basis for treatment such as chemotherapy.

She said: “We are always very happy to listen to people’s ideas about how we can improve things. We do benchmark all the charges with other hospitals so we know that we are not charging more than anyone else.”

Last month the Government announced that relatives of chronically-ill patients must be given free of cheap hospital parking under new rules.

Patients with disabilities and those with frequent appointments as well as staff working shifts will benefit to the shake-up.

The guidelines have been drawn up to put an end to the stress of “unfair charges”.

It was also revealed last week that Ipswich Hospital was holding a consultation which could see parking charges for staff dramatically increased.

Annie Topping, chief executive of watchdog Healthwatch Suffolk, described car parking as a “hot issue that a lot of people comment on up and down the country”.

She added: “Our interest is in ensuring high quality patient care and, from our perspective, we would like to see the extra income ploughed back into patient services.

“We would encourage people to tell us if this becomes an issue for them when visiting the hospital, so that we can work with the Ipswich Hospital to consider the views from patients, carers and relatives.”

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