Hospitals have been accused of imposing a “tax on the sick” after ramping up parking charges.
Almost a third of hospital trusts have increased their parking fees for visitors and patients in the past year, researchers have found.
Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Hospitals Trust, which runs City Hospital in Birmingham, put up the cost of parking from 72p an hour to 84p an hour last year, an inflation-busting 15 per cent increase.
University Hospital Birmingham, which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston, put up parking fees from £1.10 an hour to £1.23, an increase of 11 per cent.
Birmingham Women’s Hospital increased parking fees from £1.10 to £1.16, a more modest increase of five per cent but still above inflation for the last financial year.
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, which runs University Hospital in Coventry, put up the cost of parking by 33 per cent, from 63p an hour to 95p an hour last year.
The figures, analysed by data company SSentif, are provided to the NHS Information Centre by NHS trusts.
Health Minister Simon Burns said: “NHS organisations must make the best use of public funds, and this includes setting car parking charges at a rate which is reasonable for the communities they serve and provides appropriate concessions.
“These figures illustrate the fact that three-quarters of hospitals have reduced their charges or left them unchanged.”
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “The extraordinary rise in the price of car parking at our hospitals is alarming.
"It is often money patients do not have in these troubled financial times and is a tax on the sick when people have already paid for their health service.”
Jamie Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, said: “These are stealth taxes on people already at a low ebb; families and patients, at what is already a difficult time in their lives, can be clobbered by car parking charges.”
Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals, reduced parking fees from 80p an hour to 71p.