Hospitals in England are making hundreds of millions of pounds from car parking charges, with more than 40% of NHS trusts increasing the cost of a stay in the past year.
An investigation using freedom of information requests found some trusts have doubled the price of car parking for patients and visitors.
Analysis of data published by NHS Digital in October shows trusts made more than £226m in 2017-18 from parking, including penalty fines.
A total of 124 NHS trusts in England responded to the Press Association requests on parking charges, with 53 (43%) reporting an increase in prices in the past year for visitors or staff, or both. The remaining 71 (57%) said they had not put up their prices.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, confirmed his party planned to scrap hospital car parking charges. “It’s wrong to charge people to visit loved ones in hospital and the staff who care for them,” he said.
The Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman, Judith Jolly, said the charges amounted to “taxing the sick”, and although hospitals were struggling with financial pressure, this was not a “green light to charge patients”.
Rachel Power, the chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Charges for car parking at hospitals are a charge on people who are unwell, levied on them because they are unwell.”
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals doubled the price of parking for four to six hours from £3 to £6. A stay of two to four hours jumped from £3 to £5.50, but the trust reduced its one-hour stay from £3 to £2.50.