Mental health nurses protest at car park charge
More than 100 nurses and health workers have staged a lunchtime protest against the introduction of parking charges for patients and staff at Springfield University Hospital in South London.
Unison said the proposed charges could see nurses paying more than £450 a year to park their car. The proposed increase is currently out to consultation.
The psychiatric hospital is run by South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust.
Unison regional nursing officer Michael Walker said: “The hospital needs to know that its plans to tax health workers, patients and their families are deeply unpopular.”
“Many staff live outside London in Surrey and Kent and have little option but to travel by car to work and public transport to the hospital remain unreliable.”
Mr Walker told Nursing Times that at present patients and staff did not have to pay a fee to park at the Springfield site, which he acknowledged was unusual.
But he said: “Our members are very angry about the plans, and very angry that the hospital has not listened to their concerns about the toll this charge would take on them, on patients and on their families.
“To avoid any future action the hospital must ditch these deeply unpopular plans.”
He added that there had been strong support for the demonstration, which took place on Wednesday, including from doctors.
More than 600 staff have also signed a petition against the charges, he said.
A spokeswoman for South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust said the current policy of free car parking meant provision and maintenance had to be “absorbed by trust budgets” at a time of tough financial pressures.
“The trust has some difficult choices to make regarding the use of our funds and we have to balance the needs of car park users with the needs of our patients and service users,” she said. “As such one of the options we are looking at is the introduction of parking charges at our four main sites for staff and visitors.
“We are in the process of consulting with our staff on the introduction of parking charges. Once that process has finished we will consider all the views that we have received before making any final decisions.”