Nottingham hospitals' parking charges defended

Queen's Medical Centre
Image caption The trust said it had spent £3m on a new car park at the Queen's Medical Centre

Hospital bosses in Nottingham have defended car park charges after confirming a new increase.

The Nottingham University Hospitals Trust said the income generated - £3m in 2011 - covered maintenance and helped protect patient services.

Public charges, starting at £3 for two hours, will go up by 10p and staff permits by at least £2.50 a month.

Staff union Unison said the move was unjustified at a time of economic hardship for many patients.

A freedom of information request in 2012 revealed the trust, which runs the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC) and City Hospital, collected just over £3m in 2011 in car parking charges, one of the highest totals in England.

'£150,000 profit'

But officials said £3m had been spent on a new car park at the QMC, with extra CCTV, foot patrols and numberplate recognition software.

However, Martin Benn, from Unison, said: "There is no justification for raising the car parking fees, the trust already makes almost £150,000 a year profit."

He added that the charges would also hit NHS staff at a time of austerity and minimal pay rises.

Daniel Mortimer, the trust's director of workforce and strategy, said the money was not profit but went towards its "general savings programme".

He said: "We spend money constantly on upgrading the car parks and we haven't increased charges for staff for two-and-a-half years."

He added that the Medilink bus service for staff and patients would stay free to use.

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