Parking charges made Southampton General Hospital some £2.5m in a single year - with an MP calling for fees to be 'realistic'.

University Hospital Southampton ranks seventh in the top 10 NHS trusts with the highest income from car park charges in the country.

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire made £5.1m from car park fees alone for 2021/22.

Responding to the news, Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith, told the Echo that car parking fees at hospitals should be more ‘realistic.’

He said: “I understand the financial pressures on hospitals, but parking charges must be realistic.

Daily Echo: Southampton Itchen MP, Royston SmithSouthampton Itchen MP, Royston Smith

“With the latest technology hospital car parks can prevent use by commuters and others, who might take advantage, while charging a reasonable flat rate for those who need to park.

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“Southampton is a fantastic regional hospital and people have to travel, frequently by car, for visits and appointments.”

The Conservative MP added: “That said, the hospital does have a system for seriously ill patients and visitors so that they pay a lower rate than others.”

Parking fees at the Southampton hospital range from £2.70 for a ticket that lasts up to an hour, with the most expensive charge occurring for a 24-hour stay, costing £17.30.

The Echo contacted University Hospital Southampton for a comment, with a spokesperson saying: “The decision to increase parking charges is reflective of the increased costs of operating and maintaining our car parks. 

“We continue to offer either free parking or special concessions for some patients, particularly those receiving long-term treatments, and Blue Badge holders. 

“There are also options of purchasing seven, 14 or 30-day tickets which bring charges down considerably, while refunds are available for some patients and visitors who receive certain benefits.”

They added: “Any revenue from charges which is not allocated to upkeep, security or improvement of our car parks is invested directly into supporting frontline patient services. 

“Our preference wherever possible is to encourage anyone visiting our sites to consider alternative means of travel not only to help reduce congestion on site and in the local area but to also support our sustainability values, though we appreciate this is not always appropriate for many of our visitors.”