A TRUST made more than £1m by charging its own staff for parking last year, it has been revealed.

In fact, the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust brought in £1.26m in the year to March from charges and penalty fines incurred by NHS workers across all sites.

A total of nearly £70m was made across NHS trusts in England over the same period, with campaigners branding the charges as 'scandalous'.

Sarah Carpenter, national officer for health at Unite, said: "Such a large figure will take a large chunk out of the gains in the current NHS pay package, which saw most staff get a pay rise of 6.5 per cent over the next three years.

"This pernicious trend is replicated by financially squeezed trusts across England. Our members are being used as an extra income stream for these trusts.

"We would like a situation where dedicated NHS staff, who don't earn a fortune, don't have to pay to park their cars to go to work to look after the sick, the vulnerable and the injured 365 days a year."

The figures also reveal the trust made a further £3.2m from parking charges paid by patients and visitors to its sites in the same financial year.

This brought their total income from car parking to £4.5m.

Across England, almost £157m was raised from charges incurred by patients and visitors.

The figures represent the gross income earned by the NHS and do not take into account its own costs for providing car parking.

Decisions on how much to charge patients, staff and visitors to NHS sites are made by individual trusts.

However, the Department of Health and Social Care has issued guidance on how NHS organisations can make sure their policies are fair.

These include offering concessions to disabled and gravely ill people and their relatives, as well as to staff whose shift patterns mean they are unable to use public transport.

Hospital parking charges were abolished in Wales earlier this year after the last contract with a private firm expired - a decade after the Welsh Government announced parking would be free.

Parking charges have also largely been abolished in Scotland, but remain in Northern Ireland as well as England.

A spokeswoman for NHS Improvement said income generated was used to pay the costs of providing parking, while excess funds were put into clinical services.

She continued: “As we develop the long-term plan for the NHS, it is right that trusts continue to develop their commercial income opportunities.

“This is so that they can maintain their services and ensure they can provide patients with high quality care, both now and in future.”