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Nurses could face higher parking charges, unions warn

Nurses could be hit with higher car parking charges to pay for government plans to abolish fees for inpatients and their visitors, unions have warned.

Health secretary Andy Burnham announced at last week’s Labour Party conference that car parking costs for inpatients, their families and friends would be phased out over the next three years in English hospitals.

Unite nursing lead officer Barrie Brown told Nursing Times it made sense to scrap fees for inpatients as they were often the sickest, most elderly hospital users.

But he was concerned that trusts would increase levies on staff to pay for the loss of income, especially given the NHS has to save £15-20bn by 2014.

He said: “It would be a pretty easy option for trusts to consider if they felt they needed to maintain income for car parking.”

The decision to exclude staff means that English nurses are still at a disadvantage compared to Scotland and Wales, where staff car parking charges are being phased out.

RCN head of policy Howard Catton said: “On the face of it this is good news for patients and their families, but we need to look at the detail of how it will be funded. Clinical budgets mustn’t be diverted to running car parks.

“Staff also face car parking charges and these should not be increased to compensate for the lack of revenue from patients,” he added.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the issue of staff car parking remained a local matter, which was the government’s previous position on parking charges for patients and staff, prior to Mr Burnham’s announcement.

Nursing Times last year ran a campaign calling for the abolition of parking charges in England – as is already the case in Scotland and Wales.

In its response to a petition supporting the Free Parking – Clamp Down on Charges campaign the government said in July that nurses concerned about the level of car parking charges at their hospital should raise the matter with their trust.

“Hospital staff who are concerned about car parking charges at their hospital may…wish to raise this matter with their employer,” the DH statement said. ‘”We have taken the view in England that patient care, rather than subsidising car parks, should take priority when it comes to NHS resources.”

NHS trusts made around £112m in parking fees last year, up from £103m the year before.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Quote from article
    NHS trusts made around £112m in parking fees last year, up from £103m the year before.
    Unquote.

    Since Thatcher and her "Care in The Community" scheme of the late 1980s the Service has degenerated into little more than an accountant led profit based business with legions of employees with non patient contact and white elephant IT systems eating into the NHS budget.

    A return to a real practice based Nursing/Medical Care Management Team could go a long way towards directing funding to where it should be and where it is needed... delivering Care To Patients.

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  • Where it is true that parking charges in scottish hospitals have been abolished, the introduction of a 4 hour limit on parking has caused greater problems. Staff on shifts over 4 hours long have to find somewhere outwith the hospital to park or face hefty fines. As many staff do not live within easy travelling distance of the hospitals, this has become a major problem and no solution seems feasible in the near future.

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  • if the dialy/weekily charges were reasonable then people would not mind paying - but who can afford up to £15 a day to park to see their relatives? as well as loss of earnings from wages for a lot of poeple - why not have a set £ 2 a day or find a cheaper more reasonable solution

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  • I have just been reading all of the articles on this webiste with regard to charging nurses for car parking can parhaps offer an independent view from someone who has implemented many parking policies for the public service. Any staff parking policy should ensure parking availability for patients is maximised, while keeping charges to a minimum, especially for the most needy patients. If a Trust is not looking to cover its parking costs then staff permits should be allocated on a needs-basis, i.e. priority given to mobility and business need. Charging should then be considered as part of a later phase or if reinvestment is to be made into sustainable travel alternatives. £1 a day for parking is a fair amount and is much more favourable than market rates in most areas.

    Any policy should be developed on a 'pay as you park' principle as many staff assume that becuase they need access to a car on certain days they should bring their car in everyday. This can be administered through a scratch card system. If everyone who currently drives 5 days a week, left their car at home for just one day a week, congestion problems in the UK would be a thing of the pass in rush hour.

    I do not really have a view either way if nurses as frontline staff should pay for parking but the NHS needs to cover these costs somehow. Additionally, we all make lifestyle choices on what we do for a living and where we work. Most public sector workers think they should be exempt because of their importance of their role but the buck has to stop somewhere. If a new parking policy can also help to reduce any redundancies then surely this is a good thing. The NHS should also be promoting active travel amongst its employees where practical.

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