Hospitals miss out on millions in car park earnings through pandemic

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital car park from the air. Photo: Mike Page

A busy car park at the N&N. Photo: Mike Page - Credit: Submitted

Norfolk's three main hospitals missed out on millions of pounds in car park earnings as the Covid pandemic hit, new data has revealed.

With infection control measures maintained throughout the crisis meaning heavy restrictions were placed on visits, the number of people using the hospital car parks plummeted.

And as a result, each hospital saw hundreds of thousands of pounds shaved off their annual car park earnings - collectively missing out on millions.

In 2019 alone, the three hospitals brought in close to £6m in fees to use their car parks, with charges applied to patients, visitors and staff members alike.

But, the following year, this figure plunged to less than £1.7m - a figure that was almost identical in 2021.

In the past, critics have described car park earnings as a "stealth tax" on NHS services.

However, the earnings are used for both maintaining the forecourts of the hospitals themselves and for funding vital healthcare provisions. 

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Supporters of parking charges in hospitals say that it is difficult to blame Trusts for looking for alternative ways to bridge funding gaps.

Each year leading up the pandemic, the three hospitals each individually brought in seven-figure amounts through their car parks.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the region's largest, raked in close to £3m each year. In 2017 and 2018 it brought in £2.9m respectively, while in 2019 it earned £2.8m.

However, in 2020 this figure plummeted to £1.1m and last year it fell into six-figures for the first time, bringing in £0.8m.

This is likely mainly down to visitor restrictions, however, the completion of a neighbouring multi-storey car park at Norwich Research Park - which does not fund the hospital - may also have contributed.


The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston has urged people not to come into A&E unless it is an emergency. 

The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The James Paget in Gorleston also saw dramatic drops in its car park earnings. In 2017 it brought in £1.16m, in 2018 it made £1,2m and in 2019 it amassed £1.27m. The two years that followed earned less than £1m combined, earning £390,000 in 2020 and £450,000 in 2021.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, earnings were further reduced by a suspension of charges between March and November 2020.

The hospital earned £1.35m in 2017, £1.65m in 2018 and £1.75m in 2019. In 2020 and 2021 it brought in £150,000 and £430,000 respectively.


QEH

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

This all meant that combined around £8m was missed out on across the three hospitals over the past two years.

Hospital car park earnings

2017

NNUH: £2.9m

JPH: £1.16m

QEH: £1.35m

Total: £5.41m

2018

NNUH: £2.9m

JPH: £1.2m

QEH: £1.65m

Total: £5.75m

2019

NNUH: £2.8m

JPH: £1.27m

QEH: £1.75m

Total: £5.92m

2020

NNUH: £1.1m

JPH: £0.39m

QEH: £0.15m

Total: £1.64m

2021

NNUH: £0.8m

JPH: £0.43m

QEH: £0.43m

Total: £1.68m

What are the charges?

NNUH: free up to 30 minutes. Thereafter:

  • 30 minutes up to two hours – £3
  • Up to three hours – £3.50
  • Up to four hours – £4.50
  • Up to five hours – £6.50
  • Up to eight hours – £8
  • Eight to 24 hours – £12.

JPH: free up to 30 minutes. Thereafter:

  • Up to two hours - £3
  • Two to three hours: £3.50
  • Three to four hours: £4.50
  • Up to 24 hours: £6.50

QEH: 

  • Up to two hours: £2.60
  • Up to three hours: £3.90
  • Up to four hours: £5.20
  • Up to five hours: £6.50
  • Up to eight hours: £10.40
  • Up to 24 hours: £15.60
  • Weekly ticket: £28