PATIENTS, visitors and staff parking at the Countess of Chester forked out more than £2.5m for car parking in just two years.
Thousands of patients attending the hospital for operations, injections and outpatients appointments are forced to pay up to £7 a day in car parking fees.
Now, figures revealed to the Pioneer through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, show the hospital trust made £2,619,380 from car parking fees between 2010-2012 alone.
The figures, which do not include the sum generated for 2012-2013, show staff, patients and visitors parking at the health park spent £1,317,735 on car parking in 2011-12 alone – a £16,090 increase on the previous year.
And, despite patients and visitors calling for more parking spaces or even a multi-story on the site – which often sees long queues of traffic piling-up as motorists struggle to find parking spaces – the trust say it will not be spending a penny of the money creating new car parking.
Even staff working at the hospital pay up to £42.50 – dependant on the amount they earn – every month to be able to park in one of the 1,199 staff spaces.
Outraged readers flooded a Facebook page slating the charges as ‘daylight robbery’, and calling for improvements to the ‘nightmarish’ car parking, with many saying they park elsewhere to avoid the ‘atrocious’ charges.
Nikki Wood posted: “Total nightmare! I have several appointment a year not including blood tests etc, costs me a fortune and I've been late for appointments thanks to the usual drive around in circles waiting for a spot.”
And, Nikki Anglesea said: “I think the price of parking there is awful, especially to those visiting family long term.
“Or, for example, somebody who is with there wife or is a birthing partner on labour ward could be parked there for up to 36 hours.
“It's a disgrace to have to pay such a fortune.”
The trust spent £25,936 of the fees maintaining the car parks’ barriers, ticket systems and providing 24-hour manned security, but say they spend the rest of the money elsewhere in the hospital.
Chief executive Tony Chambers said the trust had made several attempts to reduce car parking congestion including staggered visiting times, and had introduced a free 30 minute parking period and exemptions.
“The countess is always listening to the public and we understand that at times car parking on our site during busy periods can be frustrating,” he said.
“However at present during these financially challenging times, any capital investment made by the trust is focusing solely on projects that have a direct impact on the delivery of patient care.”