HOSPITALS in the North-East made more than £15m in car parking charges in a year, with members of staff having to pay more than £6.4m to park at work.

The figures, released by NHS Digital, revealed hospitals in the region collected about £15.3m in car parking charges last year.

Patients and visitors to North-East hospitals spent a total of £8.9m on parking charges while NHS staff spent about £6.4m.

Staff working at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which employs about 9,000 people and runs four community hospitals, as well as James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, and Friarage Hospital, in Northallerton, collectively paid the most, at £1.9m.

A spokesman for the trust said: “The money raised from car parking charges supports the significant costs of running, maintaining and securing our hospital car parks. Any additional funds raised are reinvested back into the trust for the benefit of our patients.

“Staff can apply for permits for parking and the amount paid depends on whether they are part time or full time.”

At James Cook and the Friarage, the average cost cost of parking is £1.33 an hour.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Hospitals, which runs the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Freeman Hospital and employs 14,000 people, collected the most overall from parking charges.

Patients and visitors paid a total of £2.3m, at an average cost of £1.20 an hour, while staff paid £1.1m.

A spokesperson for Newcastle Hospitals, which also runs a staff permit scheme, said: “The money raised from car parking is used to ensure our hospital car parks are safe, clean, accessible and well-lit for patients, staff and visitors. It also avoids us having to use the funding we receive for patient care to subsidise the substantial costs of running, maintaining and securing them.

"Any surplus remaining is reinvested back into Newcastle Hospitals for the benefit of our patients and we also offer a broad range of parking concessions for visitors and patients who attend our hospitals regularly.”

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the University Hospital of North Durham (UHND), Darlington Memorial Hospital and Bishop Auckland Hospital, as well as community facilities in Chester-le-Street, Barnard Castle, Sedgefield and Stanhope, charges patients and visitors between £1.20 and £3 for two hours and up to £6 for 24 hours, raising a total of £788,821.

Meanwhile, its 7,000 members of staff paid about £582,573.