Hospital car parking charges raise £16 million in five years
CAR parking charges at hospitals across the north have generated £16 million in income from patients and staff in the past five years.
The figures were revealed in response to an Assembly question from Sinn Féin East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan, who said he wanted to see the money raised diverted back into the health service.
Of the north's 10 hospitals, the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald generated the largest amount, £5.8 million, in car parking charges over five years, followed by the City Hospital, at just under £4 million.
Craigavon Area Hospital collected £2.2 million in charges, while motorists paid a total of £1 million across five years at Altnagelvin.
The lowest amount raised was at the South-West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, where £114,000 was generated since the introduction of car parking charges in 2012. There are also considerable variations in car parking charges depending on the hospital.
The Ulster Hospital, which charges £1.20 for an hour's stay, has collected over £1 million every year since 2010.
The cheapest hospitals for a short-term parking space are the South-West and Altnagelvin, which charge 70p for the first hour.
The most expensive site for an overnight stay of between eight and 24 hours is the Belfast City Hospital, with an £11 charge.
The City also hits motorists with an £11 charge should they lose their parking ticket.
Mr McMullan, who revealed in 2013 that he was undergoing treatment for prostrate cancer, said: "People think that this money is going back into the health service, but it's not, it's going straight into the private sector. I think car parking should be run in-house and the money should go back into the health service."
The East Antrim MLA added: "It is a huge figure and we have to ask whether there is room to reduce the charge. I know from my own experience that there are concessions available for cancer patients at the City Hospital, you can avail of free car parking."
In September last year, it was revealed that private firms made a £1.7 million profit from NHS parking fees in the north over five years.
It also emerged that of the total £5.5 million paid to the Belfast Trust in parking fees between 2010 and 2015, £1.6 million of this went to private firms for maintenance, upgrading, and "subsidies for staff car parking".
Private car park companies also received £114,258 from the Western Trust for "management costs" and £30,289 from the Northern Trust, who were billed for "enforcement costs".
Car Park income by hospital 2014/15
South West Acute Hospital
£202,000 - 2014/15
£781,000 - 2014/15
Craigavon Area Hospital
Daisy Hill Hospital