A FERMANAGH councillor has said he was “astounded” to learn that the Western Health Trust has made over £170,000 from car parking charges at the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) over a two-year period.

Figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request, published in the Belfast Telegraph, show that, in the 2015-16 financial year, the car parks at the SWAH, located just outside Enniskillen, brought in £76,821, and a further £100,952 in the following 12 months.

The Trust has confirmed that this income is not re-invested in frontline patient care services, but rather helps to cover costs in terms of the provision, management and maintenance of the car parking, including associated security costs such as CCTV, barriers and improved lighting.

Speaking to the Impartial Reporter, Erne North Councillor, Raymond Farrell, said he was “astounded” when he read the published figures and wants the Trust to consider investing the money in “patient well being and care”.

Mr. Farrell said: “My honest opinion was that this money went into Trust services overall, such as patient well being and care, but clearly it appears this is not the case and is something I want to explore. While I welcome the maintenance and security on the site, which is essential, surely this revenue could also be used to increase parking space on the site?”

A spokesperson for the Western Trust said that, in the past five years, the organisation had invested “significantly” in increasing car parking capacity at its hospital sites to meet the needs of all site users.

“Since 2012, the Trust has increased the number of car parking spaces at Altnagelvin, South West Acute and Omagh Hospital main sites by 1,632 which represents a 64 per cent increase in the number of car parking spaces,” she said.

The spokesperson insisted that all income received from car parking was re-invested into Trust services.

“This income is used for payback on investment in car parking and to help cover costs in terms of the provision, management and maintenance of car parking including the associated security costs (eg, CCTV, barriers and improved lighting etc),” she said.