Patients could help get rid of staff Car Parking charges

Free High-angle Photo of Vehicles Parked Near Building Stock Photo

Today in Outpatients the atmosphere was gloomy;  Rosemary, one of the mainstays of the department, had handed in her notice.  Asked why she was leaving; “The hike in car park charges was the final straw” she told me.

I didn’t realise that NHS staff often have to pay for parking  Do other major employers charge their staff to park at their workplace?  Particularly in country districts, where public transport is scarce?  I sit on a Patient Hospital Committee, and I made a note that at the next meeting I wasn’t going to sit by when talk of Macerators went over my head – I was going to let the Chairman know I wanted Car Parking charges for staff put on the Agenda for debate – and rally support from others on the committee to see if we could get these stopped, before other nurses decided to leave.

Rosemary decided, with winter coming on, fuel price rises, etc., she couldn’t afford this extra charge, even though she loved her job.   Reluctantly, she was going to join a friend working at the local supermarket;  with free parking, discounted shopping and no unpaid overtime.

This reminded me of a conversation with Theresa, my designated nurse in a private hospital.  After 2 weeks in an NHS hospital I was in pain, and seemed to be getting worse so I got the family to move me.

The private hospital found a spiral hip fracture had been  ‘overlooked’, and I hadn’t improved because I’d picked up a hospital infection.  The ‘light bulb’ moment came when we talkedLight bulb - 12321081 about the difference in Theresa’s working conditions., compared with the staff at the NHS hospital I had just left, where I often noticed that staff, who had come on duty early in the morning, didn’t get off for a lunch break until 4 or 5 pm.

In the private hospital, Theresa said she was paid on the NHS scale, BUT – a big but – she felt more valued.  No longer did she frequently wait until 4 or 5 pm before she could have lunch, Sister made sure, if possible, every nurse went off at the right time for a meal.  On Night Shifts, there was always a hot meal available, and Theresa said this made her feel valued.

More potebigntial ‘straws’ 

Car Parking charges for staff seems a  big problem. The GMB Union tells me that Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff in England are now paying an extra £90 a year to park at work – with the average cost of parking at a hospital for staff hitting around £1,000 p.a.  That’s £20 a week that has to come out of low wages..

Paid parking for NHS staff in England was suspended during the pandemic but has now been reinstated, although Staff do not pay to park in Wales or Scotland. Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: “We think it’s an appalling decision. The timing of it is even more insulting, especially during the cost of living crisis”.

I totally agree.  Surely it’s not rocket science to work out that £1,000 p.a, when you are on a nurses’ low wage, is a massive slice out of income.  Surely questions need to be asked at the next Hospital/Patient Committee meeting?  Ask if your hospital makes these charges, and if so demand they are removed.

No-one should have to pay to park at work – unless the charges are reimbursed.