THE trust that looks after Westmorland General Hospital raised more than £1 million through charging staff, patients and visitors to park last year, figures reveal.

Trade union GMB said it is 'sickening' that nurses, midwives and cleaners in many trusts across the country have had to shell out money to park at their place of work, as it called on ministers to scrap parking charges for workers altogether.

NHS Digital data shows University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust made around £1.2 million through parking charges and penalty fines in the year to March 2020.

Of that, £843,637 was paid by patients and visitors, while £328,885 was raked in through charging staff to park.

Figures reveal that patients and visitors paid an average hourly rate of £1.05 at the most expensive of the trust's five sites, while staff dug out the same at the priciest spot.

Across England, NHS trusts raised £289 million from parking charges – nearly a third of which came from staff parking, generating £90 million over the year.

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

Rachel Harrison, GMB's national officer, said: "Government cuts have inflicted a heavy toll on the NHS, but trusts should not be clawing that cash back by charging the people we rely on to keep us alive."

The Government announced last year that it would cover the costs of providing free car parking to NHS staff working in hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. However, it said the scheme would end in all but 'certain circumstances' as the pandemic eased over the summer.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "In March, the Government committed to making hospital car parking free for NHS staff for the duration of the pandemic and is providing additional money to NHS trusts to cover the cost of implementing this.

"Any surplus income generated from hospital car parks not used to fund the provision of car parking, such as security and maintenance, must be reinvested into frontline care."

UHMBT was contacted for comment.