A row has broken out after a hospital in the south of England revealed plans to charge up to £120 a year for staff parking.
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust says it wants to introduce the charges to encourage staff to use more environmentally friendly transport options.
A consultation document proposes three options: no charges for staff, an annual fee of £120 or a charge according to pay band.
For part time, bank or agency staff, scratch cards will be available at a cost of £1 per day.
Home or school visitors, ie occupational therapists, midwives and health visitors, will be exempt, along with ambulances and voluntary staff.
A hospital spokesperson said: ‘Many employers cover the cost of car parking through staff charges, including other NHS organisations. The trust approved a travel plan in 2008, which recommended the introduction of staff parking charges to help reduce congestion and encourage greener ways of travelling to the hospital.
We recently completed a consultation process with staff about car parking charges. The Trust Board will make a final decision in the near future taking into account staff responses, costs of providing car parking and good practice elsewhere.’
But UNISON has opposed the proposals. A spokesperson said: ‘Many staff work shifts at times when they can’t get public transport.’
It also warned that other similar schemes have left staff paying for parking – then finding they were often forced to park outside the hospital because of a lack of spaces.
‘Sometimes staff have paid for annual passes and then can’t find parking spaces – they turn up for work and find there is nowhere for them to park,’ the spokesperson added.