SALISBURY District Hospital made more than half a million pounds by charging staff for parking last year, it has been revealed.

Figures released by the NHS show the trust raked in £577,640 in the year to March from charges and penalty fines incurred by NHS workers parking across all its sites.

NHS trusts across England made a combined total of almost £70million from staff parking charges over the same period.

Unite, a union which represents around 100,000 health workers, has slammed the "scandalous" figures, which it said amounted to a "tax on hard-pressed" employees.

British Medical Association council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, added that it was “unacceptable” for hospitals to plug financial gaps by charging and imposing fines on staff.

The figures also reveal the trust made a further £1million from parking charges paid by patients and visitors to its sites in the same financial year.

This brought their total income from car parking to £1.6million.

Across England, almost £157 million was raised from charges incurred by patients and visitors.

The figures represent the gross income earned by the NHS and do not take into account its own costs for providing car parking.

Hospital parking charges were abolished in Wales earlier this year after the last contract with a private firm expired - a decade after the Welsh Government announced parking would be free.

Parking charges have also largely been abolished in Scotland, but remain in Northern Ireland as well as England.

A spokeswoman for NHS Improvement said income generated was used to pay the costs of providing parking, while excess funds were put into clinical services.

She continued: “As we develop the long-term plan for the NHS, it is right that trusts continue to develop their commercial income opportunities.

“This is so that they can maintain their services and ensure they can provide patients with high quality care, both now and in future.”