Hospital trusts around the country have been slammed after it was revealed more than 40 per cent hiked their car parking charges in the past year – including Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.

A freedom of information request revealed that Frimley Health, which operates Wexham Park Hospital, made £4,452,481 from charging patients, staff and visitors during the last financial year, despite being one of the highest earning trusts in England.

This was up on the £4,126,587 it made the year before – an increase of more than £325,000.

Visitors to the trust’s hospitals have seen the cost of parking rise during each of the last two financial years. A stay of under two hours has gone up by 40p to £3.40 during the last 12 months.

In 2016 it was revealed that charges at Wexham Park Hospital’s car parks were increased by 100 per cent when the hospital introduced a new pricing system to match the costs at the trust’s other sites.

Data published by NHS Digital in October showed that NHS trusts across the country made more than £226 million in 2017/18 from parking, including penalty fines. In comparison, parking charges have been abolished in Wales and most hospitals in Scotland.

A spokesman from the Department of Health said: “We have made it very clear that patients, their families and our hardworking staff should not be subjected to unfair parking charges.

“NHS trusts are responsible for these charges and ensuring revenue goes back into frontline services, and we want to see trusts coming up with options that put staff, patients and their families first.”

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said that parking charges help generate revenue at a time when hospital finances are “under immense pressure.”

However, Mrs Power went on to say: “Charges for car parking at hospitals are a charge on people who are unwell, levied on them because they are unwell.

“We believe that patients should not be effectively charged for being ill.”

Tom Sandford, director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, also criticised the findings. He said: “Nursing staff work around the clock to keep patients safe – they should not be overcharged for doing their jobs.

“For staff working shifts public transport is not an option, so nurses and support workers have no choice but to pay parking charges that rise year on year.

“Struggling hospitals should not try make money from their staff. Their goodwill won’t last forever. Trusts should provide reasonable car parking with affordable charges.”