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Around 30% of English NHS hospitals charge their staff to park

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Three out of 10 hospitals charge staff for parking, with many also charging for disabled parking, new figures suggest.

Nurses and doctors are expected to pay for parking at 348 out of the 1,175 hospitals with parking facilities, according to analysis by motoring research charity the RAC Foundation.

“Few parking issues are as incendiary as charging people to leave vehicles at hospitals”

Steve Gooding

It found the highest average charge for staff was £2 an hour at two trusts – one in North West London and the other in the centre of Birmingham.

There were the Edgware Community Hospital, run by the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, and Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital, run by Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

As a result, the cost of parking for a nurse working a 40-hour week would be £80, according to the RAC Foundation.

However, Birmingham stressed the figures – taken from the NHS Estates Return Information Collection – only told part of the story.

“Due to our location in Birmingham city centre, our hospital maintains only 32 car parking spaces adjacent to our main Steelhouse Lane Site – some of which are used to offer our families with us long-term free parking,” said a trust spokeswoman.

“The remainder are pay and display parking places,” she said. “None of these spaces are designated for our staff.”

She said the fees identified by the RAC Foundation only related to the small number of spaces maintained by the trust, which worked with car parks locally to offer much lower discounted rates to nurses and others

“We have 3,912 staff working at our site in the city centre and we work with National Car Parks (NCP) to offer special rates to colleagues who require parking,” she added.

“The car parks at nearby Londonderry House and Whittall Street are available to our staff at discounted prices – far lower than those that have been quoted in the report circulated by the RAC Foundation,” she noted.

She added: “We also work with the same company to offer our families discounted rates of parking in the same car parks, which are short distance from our hospital.”

A spokesman for the Royal Free said the car park at Edgware is managed by NHS Property Services.

A spokesman for NHS Property Services said: “Staff can park for free in the staff car park at Edgware Community Hospital, which has approximately 200 spaces. The separate pay and display car park for visitors is £2 for the first hour on a scale up to £6 for eight hours.”

In addition, the data studied by the RAC Foundation showed that 132 hospitals now charged for disabled parking.

Government guidance for NHS organisations on patient, visitor and staff parking states that they should work to ensure staff and others can reach their sites – and park if necessary – “as safely, conveniently and economically as possible”.

However, Freedom of Information data obtained by the Press Association earlier this year revealed hospitals made a record £174m in 2017-18 from charging patients, visitors and staff for parking.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said parking at hospitals was a difficult and sometimes fraught issue.

“Few parking issues are as incendiary as charging people to leave vehicles at hospitals, be they patients, visitors or staff,” he said.

“Many hospitals are on built-up locations, on constrained sites, so some sort of control is inevitable, but this needs to be proportionate and stress free,” said Mr Gooding.

He added: “Government guidance encourages hospitals to use pay-on-exit systems. This would at least mean the anxiety associated with a hospital visit is not compounded by paying up front and having to predict to the second how long a visit will last.”

Last year, 75 members of staff at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff were left owing thousands of pounds in parking tickets, after they unsuccessfully challenged the company that runs their employer’s car parks.

Nursing Times campaigned on the issue of parking charges in 2008-09. Our Free Parking campaign called on trusts to drop “unfair” charges for staff.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I stopped paying for car parking where I work when the cost was doubled. I travel to work most days by train so do not need to use onsite parking. I understand from colleagues who do pay for parking that they need to be in work by 7.30 to ensure a parking space, which is no good if you don’t start work until 9.00. The trust encourages staff to travel to work using public transport- this is not always practical due to shift patterns and the reliability of the train company serving the hospital, I think there are daily delays on the train line serving the hospital meaning staff have to catch earlier trains than they should to try and ensure they arrive to work on time

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  • You may have a parking permit that you will have paid for (rate according to band) but that does not mean you get a space! To do so you have to come early to get a space. If you don't have a permit, like me,your journey takes you up to hour & half as have to drive to park and ride past the hospital then get a hospital link bus for one site or pay £6 to park. For the other site park & ride & get the tram over an hour journey for a 35-40min car ride to hospital. Our hospital link buses are suppose to run every 10mins - it's not uncommon to wait half an hour sometimes more. If you are a juggling childcare with work it is really tough to be anywhere on time! Encouraging us to work in NHS mmmmm I don't think so. It's a difficult one to solve if we ever will but stopping the charges for this fortunate to have a permit is a start.

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