Hospital trust is accused of ‘grabbing cash’ from NHS workers amid parking issues

Birmingham resident helps NHS staff with parking charges

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The union said that current parking arrangements are nothing but a “cash-grab” on workers who have faced mounting costs after the free parking for NHS employees was scrapped when pandemic restrictions began to be lifted.

Parking fees were waived across the country at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic but Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced this would come to an end from Friday, April 1.

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH), the trust running Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital, said it would not be reinforcing the charge until “early summer”.

But problems remain, with some workers not being able to use the limited staff car park without obtaining a permit, while patient and visitor car parks are strictly off-limits for staff and must be kept for its designated use only.

Permits are reportedly very limited in number and come with a long waiting period, and those who do not have a permit have simply been told to get to work by other means, reported Nottinghamshire Live.

Staff have complained about the infrequency and busyness of alternative bus services, while others report having to stand in queues in pouring rain after 12 hour shifts.

Jamie Godber, UNISON Nottingham University Hospitals and Allied Services branch secretary, said: “It’s just not acceptable to us to see healthcare workers who have put themselves on the line repeatedly throughout the pandemic being exposed to these returning costs.

“Car parking for NHS staff should be free and it has been for over 18 months.

“To bring back car parking charges now just feels like a cash grab on workers, who often need to get to work during unsociable hours.”

Dave Ratchford, UNISON’s East Midlands regional organiser, added: “Hospital workers are very unhappy that they are effectively being taxed extra to go to work and save lives.

“Many staff at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust are reporting that they are having to use food banks just to get by as the cost-of-living crisis continues to escalate.

“Meanwhile, staff in neighbouring NHS trusts in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire do not have to pay to park at work.

“It’s now time for senior hospital bosses to do the right thing and scrap parking charges for hospital staff in Nottingham.”

A spokesman from Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust said: “With the increased number of patients using our services, and in line with the Government ending free parking for NHS staff, we have recently reinstated our pre-Covid on-site parking restrictions.

“We have expanded our offer to make it easier for staff to travel to and from work, including more Medilink (bus) services that started this week, and we continue to work with our partners in the Council and CT4N to monitor and improve its reliability.”

The Trust added that if NUH staff currently hold a parking permit, even if expired, staff will be able to park in one of the on-site car parks, subject to availability.

It also said it has issued as many permits as possible to effectively use the spaces.

It comes as recently reported on the parking chaos at hospitals around the UK.

There were two separate incidents last month that resulted in a doctor being fined for a night shift overrunning ‘by minutes’ and a disabled woman who had to leave her child alone in A&E due to dedicated spaces having been removed.

Trainee GP Malinga Ratwatte was fined £100 after leaving his hospital car park less than 10 minutes late after two separate 12.5-hour shifts.

And a disabled woman in Salisbury was left in distress when she discovered that the disabled parking spaces at A&E had been removed.

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