Healthcare staff are wasting valuable time searching for parking spaces and two-thirds have been fined when trying to park at work, according to a survey published today by the union Unison.
It found 63% said they have to pay for parking permits, in some cases costing £100 or more a month, but hardly any – just 8% – have a guaranteed space.
“It’s unfair to charge staff for parking permits without guaranteeing them a space”
As a result, 54% can end up being late for work, with some spending an hour a day looking for a space, and 21% up to 30 minutes doing so, the survey respondents said.
In addition, 63% have no option but to seek alternative parking elsewhere, and 33% have to pay for this. More than half, 58%, said the cost of parking at work has increased in the past two years.
The union said the findings were based on a survey of more than 3,500 health workers including nurses, therapists, healthcare assistants and NHS students who have no option but to drive to work.
Just 30% are “lucky enough” to find a space as soon as they arrive at work, but others struggle, with some being fined up to £140 a time for parking in the wrong place, according to the survey.
“Exorbitant hospital parking charges have increasingly become the norm in England”
It also found 33% said public transport was not an option because of the nature and time of their shifts and 13% need to take their cars to work because their job requires them either to drive to patients’ houses, or to transport resources within the community.
Meanwhile, others say they have no option but to drive to work because they combine their journey with dropping children off at school or nursery, or calling in on elderly relatives.
Unison said the time spent looking for parking added “unnecessary stress and pressure” to an already stretched workforce, and could also have an impact on staff handovers and cause delays.
The union’s head of health Sara Gorton said: “Driving is often the only way some health workers can get into work, particularly those on early starts or late finishes, or who live in rural areas where public transport is virtually non-existent.
sara gorton for index
“It’s unfair to charge staff for parking permits without guaranteeing them a space,” she said. “The lack of available parking can mean a stressful start to the day as staff drive around endlessly trying to find somewhere to leave their cars.
“Exorbitant hospital parking charges have increasingly become the norm in England because the NHS is so starved of funds,” said Ms Gorton.
She added: “The government could help struggling trusts by funding the NHS properly so hospitals don’t have to squeeze extra cash from staff and patients.”
Earlier this year, the union launched a hospital car parking charter to abolish charges for staff in England and Northern Ireland. The majority of hospital parking is already free to staff in Scotland and Wales.
- NHS hospital car parking now free for nurses across Wales
- Wales plans free hospital parking
- Scotland to implement ban on hospital car parking charges
Last year, a Freedom of Information request by Unison confirmed that some hospitals were charging nurses and other staff nearly £100 a month to park.
Fellow union the GMB later claimed that some staff may sometimes be having to pay over £1,000 a year to park.
- Hospital nurses paying ‘extortionate’ charges to park
- Union attacks ‘grossly unfair’ car parking charges for NHS staff
In February, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn recommitted to ending NHS England hospital car parking charges, should the party win the next general election. Mr Corbyn branded them a “tax on sickness” during a visit to Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Labour’s 2017 manifesto, published in May last year, the party claimed that all its new spending commitments were “fully costed and transparent”.
Meanwhile, in August a petition was launched that calls for health workers such as district nurses to be given greater parking freedoms when performing care duties in the community.
- Petition launched to ease parking restrictions for district nurses
- Labour recommits to introducing free hospital car parking
- Labour pledges to ‘end NHS car park charges’ in England
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.