Published: 11:27, 28 December 2017
Visitors, patients and staff have been forced to pay millions to park at Kent hospitals - with east Kent notching up one of the highest incomes in the land.
The East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust took £3,997,745 in car park charges in 2016/17.
That gave it the third largest income for charges in England in that year.
Visitors and patients pumped £2,345,366 into the machines and staff paid a further £1,652,379 to park at work.
Officials, who run hospitals in Canterbury, Thanet and Ashford, also revealed disabled people are required to pay for a space.
In 2015 the government suggested trusts should offer concessionary or free parking to disabled visitors.
The trust did not say how much it gets from parking fines.
In comparison Medway NHS Foundation Trust said in 2016/17 it had an income of £2,039,433 and collected £41,520 in fines.
That amount increased by £31,470 as it collected £10,050 in penalties in 2015/16.
Medway also asks disabled people to pay to park at the hospital.
The information was gained by a request under the Freedom of Information Act. There is no information available for the other Kent trusts.
Director of estates and facilities at Medway, Claire Lowe, said: “Our primary objective is to improve patient experience and being able to access the hospital’s services promptly and conveniently is an important factor in this.
"Medway Maritime Hospital is in a densely populated area surrounded by controlled parking zones.
"Our parking charges ensure turnover of vehicles on the site and discourage non-hospital users from using the parking facilities.
"We offer a wide range of concessions to make car parking accessible for all our patients and visitors.
"Any surplus income after running costs of the car park have been met is put directly back into patient care to improve the services for local people."
The East Kent Hospitals trust has also issued a statement which said: "East Kent Hospitals is one of the country’s largest NHS trusts with five hospital sites across Kent.
"The total amount raised through car parking each year is combined income from the Trust’s five hospital sites and is income from both staff and patients.
"In addition, the figure does not take account of operating costs and once these are deducted, all remaining income is put back into the hospital for patient care and experience.
"All the Trust’s car parks are managed internally and offer a range of concessions for patients and visitors, including blue-badge holders, oncology and renal patients, as well as weekly parking permits to reduce costs for people who need to visit the hospital several times over an extended period."
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