Hospitals across the West are taking about £7.5 million a year from people in parking charges, research has shown.
The Western Daily Press has reported how NHS trusts in the Bristol area raked in more than £2.3 million last year, from patients, visitors and staff.
Now further analysis of figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show other West hospitals received well over £5 million.
The data was released by Gloucestershire MP Chris Skidmore, who asked trusts for detals of their income from fees over the past decade.
Mr Skidmore, who represents the Kingswood constituency, discovered that Bath’s Royal United Hospital took £1.3 million, and both Great Western Hospitals and Salisbury NHS Trusts received over £1 million.
The figure for Dorset County Hospital NHS Trust was close to half a million pounds, while Northern Devon was £548,000, Yeovil District Hospital £382,000 and Gloucestershire Hospitals £277,000. The overall West total looks likely to be higher as some trusts, such as Taunton and Somerset, and Hereford, did not list their car parking income.
Mr Skidmore, who takes a close interest in health issues, found that more than £85 million was paid out in parking at hospitals last year. That is up from £81 million the previous year, and £75 million in 2009-10, despite increasing public anger over the scale of charges. He is due to raise the issue in Parliament, when he will call for a full review of the system.
NHS bosses say that in difficult economic times they have no choice but to charge for parking – fees can be as high as £12 for a whole day – although it is free in most Welsh hospitals.
The Department of Health says: “Patients who need to go to hospital often, or for long periods of time, have a fundamental right to fair and appropriate car parking.”