Shocking figures have revealed hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven are making almost £1m in parking


The Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital charged their staff £718,769 to park at the sites in 2018/19.

The remaining income of £225,853 was made from patient and visitor parking.

Figures were released by NHS Digital as part of the hospital trust’s Estates Returns Information Collection Summary.

North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, which is the new trust resulting from the merger of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the income generated from staff parking is invested back in hospital services and maintenance.

Christine Wharrier, of the campaign group We Need West Cumberland Hospital, said: “These are really substantial figures, with this amount of money they should be reducing the charges to show goodwill to the staff.

“I don’t think it’s fair to charge visitors and patients. It’s not a choice to be there, it’s not somewhere you’re going for a bit of shopping, we go because we have to. It’s not good for a caring place.”

The previous financial year the two hospitals charged patients and visitors £353,867 and staff £553,484.

A trust spokesman said: “The income generated from staff parking permits is invested back into hospital services, security, car park and maintenance. “Along with other NHS hospitals across the country the trust staff are able to obtain a staff parking permit which offers parking at a discounted rate. As the two trusts have now merged, joining together policies such as car parking is something we will look into.

“Staff are encouraged to car share wherever possible and a number of our staff do use public transport, however this is not always possible due to rurality of Cumbria and we have staff that are based within the community who are required to drive to see patients.

“In January 2019, pay on exit barriers to the patient and visitor car parks at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, were introduced. The introduction of the barriers means patients and visitors no longer have to estimate how long they will need to park for and only pay for the time they use. The barriers also bring the added convenience of credit and debit card payments.”

Cumbria’s hospitals are not alone in charging for parking and debate over fees policies has taken place nationally.

Tony Lywood, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Copeland, said car parking at hospitals should be free.

He said: “We shouldn’t be charging people or their relatives who are already distressed because of actually being there.

“For hard-pressed and hard-working staff, parking should be free.

“The Labour Party is committed to free parking throughout the NHS.

“After a decade of cuts, the NHS is having to find new way to increase the finances they get and it shouldn’t be put in that situation. Labour will make sure the NHS is properly funded.”

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison was unavailable for