HOSPITALS in the Bradford district have raked in almost £3million by charging patients, visitors and staff to park at their sites.

New figures from NHS Digital found Bradford Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - which includes Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital - made a gross income of £1.4 million in 2018/19.

This was a split of £888,801 made from charging members of the public and patients to park, while the remaining was earned by charging staff £570,368 to park their cars at work.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust also made £1.4million last year when they raked in£937,877 from charging patients to park and another £482,634 from car parking for staff.

According to the Parkopedia website, it costs patients and visitors £2.50 to park at Bradford Royal Infirmary for two hours, but disabled parking is free.

Across England, NHS trusts saw a gross income of £185.6 million in 2018/19 from parking for patients and visitors, and £86.2 million from parking for staff.

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, said making parking free for patients would see money taken out of clinical budgets.

He added: “In an ideal world you would want patients to park for nothing and I’m not sure anybody would think otherwise.

“Of course, that’s money that goes to clinical care in the hospital and if they didn’t have that income where would the money come from?

“The other complicated factor, particularly in town centres, is if you don’t have parking charges, you would find the car park full all day because it’s free and others aren’t.”

Soo Nevison, of Healthwatch Bradford and District, said: “We cannot have people who are in poor health and poor wealth penalised by car parking charges when they are going to the very place where they are trying to improve their health.

“The issue for us is that parking charges aren’t discriminatory so people who are disabled or visiting someone in palliative care aren’t penalised by charges.

“Charges need to be clear and fair and when free parking can be given, that’s what we want."

A spokesperson for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The money we receive from parking charges goes towards the maintenance and improvement of all car parks at both our hospitals, including the safety and security of our patients, staff and visitors by way of regular security patrols, the provision of CCTV and lighting, and also through gritting and snow clearing in adverse weather conditions.

“This revenue also helps us to make improvements to the environment outside our hospitals, such as improving air quality outside the main entrance at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust said they froze parking prices for 10 years until 2017 and all of the money goes back into the Trust.

David Moss, managing director of AGH Solutions, the company responsible for managing the parking, said: "Blue badge holders can park for free, and we have increased the number of blue badge spaces across the site, to make it easier to find accessible parking places. We also offer the first 20 minutes parking for free which benefits over 36,000 patients and visitors every year.

“Concessionary permits are available for visitors of patients who are likely to be in hospital longer than a week. There are also reduced rates available for patients undergoing treatment for cancer and visitors to the intensive care unit and the neonatal unit are entitled to exemption permits."