Hospital parking profits soar again despite new ‘fair charge’ rules (VIC)

Victoria’s public hospitals enjoyed record profits from car parking fees last year, despite new Government rules ordering “fairer” charges for patients and visitors.

New data analysed by this blog shows total parking profits were up from $48.7 million to $53.6 million in 2016/17 – a leap of 10% in a single year and 20% compared to two years ago.

Total revenue from parking charges was $73 million across all metro hospitals, with $19.4  million of that lost to operating costs.

Five public health providers – Austin Health, Alfred Health, Melbourne Health, the Royal Women’s Hospital and the Royal Children’s Hospital – each reported parking profits of over $5 million for the year.

The largest single profit was posted by the Royal Children’s Hospital, which made a clear $8.8 million profit in 2016/17 and charges visitors up to $34 a day to park.

Eastern Health saw the highest year-on-year rise with a profit increase of just over 50% ($2.3 million to $3.6 million). It put the big leap down to various factors including more staff parking at Maroondah Hospital and Box Hill Hospital, which also helped to free up more spaces for the public.

Biggest car parking profits (2016/17)

Provider Total profit
The Royal Children’s Hospital $8,855,000
Austin Health $7,800,000
Alfred Health $6,843,000
The Royal Women’s Hospital $5,836,000
Melbourne Health $5,365,000

Highest parking fees

Hospital All day ($) 1-2hrs ($)
Box Hill Hospital (Eastern Health) 40 14
Royal Melbourne Hospital – City Campus 35 16
The Royal Women’s Hospital 35 16
The Royal Children’s Hospital 34 18
Austin Hospital 30 15
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre 30 14

Get the full data

The increasingly lucrative returns come just two years after the State Government passed new rules requiring public hospitals to “review” their fees to make them more affordable for patients, carers and visitors.

From February 2016, hospitals in Victoria are obliged to be more transparent about parking fees, with better signage and a formal policy in place. They are also required to undertake an annual review of parking charges.

The new rules seem to have done little to keep costs down for most patients though, with hourly charges staying high and profits rising year-on-year.

Graph: Revenues, costs and profits from hospital car parking (by financial year)

hospital-parking-profits

Concession fees do seem more reasonable for most hospitals, with some charging as little as a few dollars to park. However, those not eligible for concessions are charged up to $18 for a 1-2 hour stay and up to $40 for a whole day.

Different states, same problem

In NSW, the State Government ordered a crackdown on parking charges in early 2017 after a high profile petition by 14-year old Gideon Goodman. The policy, aimed at long-term patients and carers, will cost the NSW Government (and taxpayers) $11 million.

The Queensland Government also took a direct approach in 2017 by subsidising 100,000 additional concession spaces at 12 hospitals at a public cost of $7.5 million.

The Victorian Government is alternatively hoping to tackle the problem with a softer ‘nudge’ approach, putting the onus back on the hospitals. Announcing the new rules in February 2015, State Health Minister Jill Hennessy MP said hospitals should “do what they can” to reduce the burden on patients and carers. However, without cash subsidies (or the unlikely imposition of maximum charges) hospital parking fees are unlikely to drop any time soon and profits will continue to soar.

The State Health Minister was contacted with questions – including if there are any plans to review the rules or provide financial subsidies – however did not respond before publication.

Notes on the data

  1. Monash Health is the only major provider not to list car parking revenues and costs in its financial reporting so is not included in the figures. It was asked directly for its figures but did not supply them before publication.
  2. Mercy Health’s Women’s Hospital is co-located with Austin Hospital so is included in Austin Health’s reported figures. Mercy Health was asked for figures about Werribee Hospital but did not supply them before publication so this facility is not included in the data.

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