INCOME from car parking charges at Westmorland General Hospital increased by almost £15,000 in the past year.

According to figures newly released by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust, income from the pay and display machines at the Kendal hospital totalled £211,091 in the 2017-18 financial year.

The figure represents a significant rise on the 2016-17 takings total of £195,928, and that increase contrasts with the previous year when the takings were almost identical to the 2015-16 figure of £195,916.

However, the figure is less than half that of takings from parking machines the Royal Lancaster Infirmary in 2017-18, which totalled £530,558, an increase of more than £26,000 on the previous year.

Takings from parking charges at the Trust’s other hospital, Furness General in Barrow, totalled £204,805.

Parking charges at the Westmorland General Hospital were last increased in July 2017.

Current charges at the pay and display machines, which now give change unlike the older machines, currently stand at £1.30 for up to one hour, £2.20 for up to two hours, £3.90 for up to four hours, £6 for up to eight hours, £7.50 for up to 24 hours and £8 for a seven day pass.

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, 57 per cent of the NHS Trusts which responded had not increased their parking charges in the 2017-18 period.

However, in some regions, prices have risen sharply.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, which operates the Royal Preston Hospital where many patients from the South Lakes area attend for treatment, recently doubled the price of a stay of four to six hours from £3 to £6.

A stay of two to four hours also jumped from £3 to £5.50, though the the Trust reduced its one hour stay charge from £3 to £2.50.

The group have also revised their car parking system as from December 21, with a number plate recognition system replacing the former arrangement of a barrier and pay and display system and payment made via a kiosk.