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”
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.”
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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.
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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.