The money paid in parking fees and fines at the Royal Bolton Hospital has increased year on year new figures show

According to data on the NHS Estates Returns Information Collection, in 2022/2023 patients and visitors who parked at the hospital, paid a fine, or for a parking permit spent a total of £874,498.

This was an increase of 53.7 per cent when compared to 2021/2022 when £568,882 was spent by patients and visitors.

The hospital says that the increase in how much patients and visitors spent comes down to levels returning to normal following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bolton News: Opposition spokesman for Adult Services, Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Andy Morgan, says that he does have concerns that the charges at times may be unreasonable to residents and family members.

He said: “Visits to patients enhance and speeds up their recovery and wellbeing. 

“Any schemes, including parking charges, that could reduce the likelihood of a visit because of the costs involved should be looked at and reviewed.”

The trust also states it does not receive the money that people pay for parking fines, andthe money spent on car parking goes to supporting ongoing maintenance.

Cllr Morgan says that if the parking fees did not support maintenance costs, then those costs would have to be found from within existing revenue budgets.  

He added: “The age of some of the hospital buildings/estates does mean increased maintenance costs. 

The Bolton News: “This should be reflected by either building new facilities or increased budgets to cover the additional costs.

“I would absolutely welcome a new hospital in Bolton, but this must be financed and ringfenced from central government and devolved to the Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board. 

“I hope all our MPs will continue to lobby government on our behalf.”

This is in comparison to Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, where patients and visitors spent £497,207 in 2022/2023, and £404,019 in 2021/2022, which is an increase of just over 23.1 per cent.

Cllr Morgan says that one of the main reasons he believes people end up paying fines is because of the system being “complicated”.

The Bolton News: He said: “Since its introduction I have been contacted by a number of blue badge holders who weren’t aware that they also have to register their vehicles on the system when previously they just displayed their blue badges. 

“I do think that the appeals process should be made easier and more transparent."

Cllr Morgan also said that if someone makes a mistake for the first time that it should not result in a fine straight away, and that visitors should be issued with a letter explaining why they broke the rules, and what they need to do to prevent any further issues. 

He added: “When people visit the hospital for non-routine matters that it is very easy to lose track of time and make mistakes. 

“As said above people should not be fined for a first contravention then should be offered further advice.”

The Bolton News: Royal Bolton HospitalParking for Blue badge holders is free, but holders still need to register directly with the contracted parking company - Parking Eye on on 0333 123 1454 - prior to their first visit. 

There is also free parking for everyone for all visits under 30 minutes.

Annette Walker, Chief Finance Officer at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have seen the revenue from car parking return to more normal levels following the Covid-19 pandemic when there was lower car parking usage.

 “The revenue generated from patient and visitor car parking supports the on-going maintenance of the hospital and patient care.

 “Our car parks are managed by iFM Bolton and supported by Parking Eye through the use of ANPR.

“The Trust does not benefit from fines.

 “Parking remains free of charge for blue badge holders, cancer patients, relatives of end-of-life patients, parents/carers of children admitted overnight and relatives of critically ill patients admitted long term.”

A spokesperson for Healthwatch Bolton said: “Healthwatch Bolton has not been approached by anyone directly, who has received a parking fine at Bolton hospital so we cannot comment on what the reasons may be.

"It may be beneficial for Bolton Hospital to do their own research in finding out why people are being fined.

"There could be several reasons such as their appointment running late, putting the wrong information into the parking machine, or simply forgetting the time.

"If the reasons were known, then the hospital should look into addressing any problems to ensure the risk of fining patients is diminished.”

Further information is available on Parking Eye's website or on the trust's website.

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