Barking Havering and Redbridge Hospital Trust has made £5m through car park charges since 2014 – East London and West Essex Guardian Series

Richard Smith, BHRUT car parking manager, said: “We understand that paying for car parking is the last thing our patients want to think about when coming to our hospitals, so we work hard to keep costs as low as we can.

Hospital car park charges have been branded a “tax on sickness” by the Liberal Democrats, while Labour has claimed it would end such charges.

Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, which caters to many residents living in the Epping Forest area, also collected a total of almost £1m in car park fees last year, up from £790,000 the year previous.

“We also provide free parking for parents with children in our hospitals, and free visitor parking for the families of patients in intensive care.

“The majority of our car parks are run by our partner, Sodexo. Any income to our Trust is used to fund patient care across our hospitals.”

The Department of Health says charges are a matter for hospitals to decide locally, while trusts across the country have claimed they need the money in order to reinvest it into care.

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