Two groups of nurses have successfully won concessions over car parking with local councils this month.
District nurses from south-west London were due to protest last week outside council offices after receiving parking fines that could amount to hundreds of pounds.
The nurses, from NHS Richmond, were unhappy at a decision by the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames to tighten parking restrictions in some parts of the borough.
The nurses have parking permits that allow them to park free of charge in residents’ bays, but the council had decided that the permits – also held by other public sector workers including social workers and highway engineers – should no longer be valid in some parts of central Twickenham and Sheen.
The council claimed it had received a number of complaints that people were abusing the permits and had been parking all day instead of three hours.
As a result traffic wardens were able to levy a £120 fine for every car wrongly parked under the new system. Although the council had told the nurses that the fines could be cancelled on appeal, the appeal had to be signed by a line manager and returned within a week – causing paperwork and a demand for payment if the deadline was missed.
However, the council agreed to revoke the permit restrictions the day before the protest was scheduled to go ahead. Michael Walker, Unison’s London regional officer, said: ‘They have agreed to go back to the status quo and will review the situation in three months’ time.’
Siobhan McCoulough, district nurse at NHS Richmond, said the restrictions had been causing a lot of stress. ‘If we saw a traffic warden walking around, a lot of us felt we had to rush from the patient’s house.
‘During the day there is plenty of places to park because people are at work,’ she added.
Hospital nurses in Derby have also received more positive news on car parking this month, after complaining to local councillors about a lack of parking provision at the new Derby City General Hospital.
Derby City Council has agreed to release an additional 420 spaces for use by nurses and other hospital staff over the next 12 months.
Hundreds of staff had faced having to park in the centre of Derby and take a hopper bus to work because of a lack of parking spaces at the hospital site.
RCN lead steward Michael Hayworth said: ‘While this news is welcome, it is only a temporary measure. A long-term solution is still needed for the lack of parking capacity around the City Hospital site.’