N&N makes massive profit from car park

NORFOLK'S flagship hospital made more than five times as much from car parking charges as the facility cost to run, new analysis of the figures has shown.

NORFOLK'S flagship hospital made more than five times as much from car parking charges as the facility cost to run, new analysis of the figures has shown.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has defended its car park costs, saying every penny of profit was ploughed back into patient care.

While the revenues taken by hospital car parks have been revealed before, this is the first time the profits have been looked at in close detail.

The investigation by Which? discovered that Southampton University Hospitals made the largest amount in profit - �1.39m last year, a profit margin of 376pc.

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But the N&N made five times as much as it cost to run its car park, taking �1.07m, a profit margin of 534pc.

The income from its 850-space car park in 2008-09 was �1,271,108, but �200,632 of that went towards the running costs such as security and upkeep.

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The consumer magazine asked for the data from the 25 largest hospital trusts in England, under the Freedom of Information Act.

However, the N&N argues that the surveyed hospitals were chosen based on hospital admissions, and not outpatients.

A spokesman for the hospital said that hospitals with high numbers of outpatients were not surveyed, even though their charges might be higher than at Norwich, where parking is free for the first half hour, then �2 for three hours or free for disabled badge holders.

She said: “Income from car parking at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is �1m. Every penny of the income from our car parks goes back into our NHS services.

“Patients and visitors are reminded that it can be cheaper and a lot less fuss on the bus - the cost of using the Costessey Park and Ride service is only �1. We have extremely good transport links by bus to the city centre and bus travel is free for concessionary bus pass holders after 9.30am.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said he did not advocate abolishing car park charges, as it would leave a “very substantial hole in NHS budgets at a time when public finances are in such a mess”.

However, he said there was a need for balance and he would encourage hospitals to ensure they follow Department of Health guidelines by waiving car parking fees for regular patients and visitors.

He said: “In the case of the Norfolk and Norwich, for many people from rural areas there is no viable public transport option, particularly if they are elderly or frail.

“I think they need to look at this again. I understand their difficulties - they are not trying to make profit to send off to shareholders and the money they are raising is going into the hospital. But if it gets to the point where it's excessive for patients, then the balance isn't right.”

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