Visitors to UK hospitals were hit with £13.3m in fines from 2015 to 2016, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
Online parking reservation site YourParkingSpace.co.uk submitted the request to NHS trusts around the country, and 136 responses revealed that as many as 159,000 penalty charge notices (PCNs) had been handed out.
However, one in 10 of these fines were appealed against, of which two thirds were successful. Nonetheless, the total sum pocketed by trusts around the country reached an estimated £13.3m.
While some trusts rarely issued the penalty charge notices, which can range from £10 to £100, others handed hospital patients and visitors an average of 245 a week.
The trust to issue the highest number of fines was the Barts Health NHS Trust with 12,789, receiving in return an average of 90 appeals per week. This was followed by University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Foundation Trust, which issued 12,556, and The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust with 10,696.
Meanwhile, seven trusts had 100 per cent of the PCNs it issued overturned. That meant 358 successful appeals against The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, 45 against the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, 15 against the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, eight against the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, seven against the Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, four against the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and finally, three against the Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
"It's added worry at a time that is often already very stressful for patients and their families. The research, however, shows that if you feel that you have been unfairly ticketed while parking at a hospital it can pay to appeal."
Woods suggested a solution to the high number of fines, which cost the trusts a significant amount in admin each year.
"Many patients and visitors already know in advance when they will be visiting the hospital, and booking their parking online could make the trip much less stressful and help them avoid parking illegally," he said.
"Meanwhile, for hospitals that deal with PCN appeals internally it's a reduction in the administrative headache that comes with this, so it really is a win-win."