THE private company which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital’s car parks is to raise charges for the second time in seven months.
Carillion, which manages car parks on the QA site as part of the private finance initiative (PFI) deal that paid for the new hospital, is to increase charges next month.
Many have reacted furiously to the news which will see patients and visitors having to pay more while the company reaps the profits.
Jock McLees, chairman of the Portsmouth Local Involvement Network, the city’s patient group, said: ‘The increase is insensitive and ill-judged – despite the fact we are told they compare favourably with other sites in the region.
‘We are giving notice to Carillion that we will be declaring war on them at some point over the car parking issue.’
Meanwhile other hospitals, such as Southampton General Hospital, which are not in PFI deals and own their own car parks, can use profits from charges for the upkeep and security of the sites and anything left is ploughed straight back into front-line services. QA however sees nothing of the profit made from its car parks.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said this is another example of why the PFI deal is a bad idea.
She said: ‘These private companies are going to be trying to squeeze every cent they can out of their public sector projects.
‘There has to be much greater scrutiny of the profits they are making and efforts must go on to try to renegotiate PFIs.’
Hospital bosses and board members have also expressed disappointment at the price hike, but said their hands are tied.
Peter Mellor, company secretary of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust which runs QA, said: ‘We are disappointed Carillion has chosen to increase charges, especially at a time of financial difficulty. But it’s out of our control because it’s within the PFI contract.’
A spokesperson for Carillion said: ‘The new prices are in line with other local car parks in the city, and other local hospitals. In most cases the charges are in fact lower than elsewhere.
‘As part of the PFI agreement, Carillion can raise the charges annually. November’s increase was the first change in parking charges at the hospital since 2004. These new charges are an increase for this new financial year.
‘We tried to hold off raising them as long as possible but we recognise the need to bring them in line with other car parks.’
However Carillion refused to comment on how much profit it makes from car parking charges at QA.