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Exclusive: Hike in car park charges could force student nurses to quit


Crippling parking charges may force student nurses to quit at an east Midlands hospital.

Students, as well as bank and agency staff, will no longer be eligible for staff permits under a controversial new parking policy that comes into force at Northampton General Hospital in April.

The changes mean student and bank nurses face paying up to £10 a day to park on site instead of being able to apply for permits, which cost around £10 a month.

Students at the University of Northampton have set up an online petition in order to try and get the trust’s decision to increase parking fees revoked.

Nursing Times understands some are considering dropping out because they cannot afford the extra expense.

The changes will also mean a 50% increase in parking charges for all staff, which will take the average cost of a permit for a full-time worker up to £15 a month.

In addition, nurses who live within two miles of the hospital will no longer be able apply for a permit unless they need a car during the day for their job – although that does not apply to those regularly working night shifts and weekends.

Northampton General Hospital Trust admitted the changes “would not be popular with some staff”. It described parking as a “constant problem”, despite having more spaces per inpatient bed than many similar hospitals around the country.

“We are faced with some difficult choices to find a solution to the current parking problems”

Trust spokeswoman

With almost 5,000 staff and parking spaces for less than 1,500 cars, staff car parks are usually full by 8am most days, a trust spokeswoman told Nursing Times.

“One of our key priorities is to improve parking for our patients and it is for this reason the board has agreed the eligibility for a staff parking permit should be reviewed and restricted,” she said.

“We are faced with some difficult choices in order to find a solution to the current parking problems,” said the spokeswoman. “Whilst we would like to accommodate as many staff cars as possible on site, we have no contractual obligation to provide car parking facilities.”

In an effort to boost capacity, the trust has leased extra spaces in council-run car parks. It has also promised to look into the possibility of building decked parking on the hospital site, which could provide about 200 more spaces.

“It’s important staff and nursing students doing their placements are not unfairly penalised”

Rachel Forster

Rachel Forster, Royal College of Nursing steward and staff side chair, said: “We appreciate it’s important that patients have spaces to park, but it’s also important that staff and nursing students doing their placements at the hospital are not unfairly penalised.”

Ms Forster said she had asked for a breakdown of trust income and expenditure to see if “such severe changes are in any way justifiable”.


Readers' comments (4)

  • We have a related problem in Oxford. The Oxford University Hospitals Trust, which includes the John Radcliffe where I work, has strict controls on parking. I am not permitted a staff car park permit because I live on a suitable bus route. Fair enough, I'm not quibbling that. The OUH has negotiated discounts for season tickets on the buses, and I used to buy an annual ticket for travel to work. But just over a year ago OUH decided that those of us on site, but still subject to their parking controls, who were not OUH payroll could no longer buy these tickets. The equivalent ticket bought direct from the bus company is £250 more! I work for the blood service (NHSBT) and based in the JR hospital, and over night my travel costs escalated. I have tried to pursue this issue locally, but so far have not had a rationale for this totally unreasonable action. All NHS workers are equal, except some are more equal than others at OUH!

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  • Yeah this has been bubbling away under the surface for years. It's not just students: I know of many ex-colleagues who do not meet the strict criteria for a parking permit at their place of work and some are spending around £10 a day, just for the privilege of using a car to travel to work.

    For too long now, NHS Trusts in England have been hiking up their parking charges, employing disreputable private parking firms who hand-out £60 fines to all in sundry and making vast sums of money off the backs of poorly people and their worried relatives. It's not fair, it's not right, it should be stopped!

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  • What other organisations charge their employees to park thier cars? to income generate in this way is disgusting.

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  • What about those hospitals that charge district nurses who are based at the hospital for parking?You have to have a car for work, often the trusts make you join lease car schemes that are something of a protection racket and both the trust and the lease car company make money from you, is classed as a perk so tax is affected then you are expected to pay to park when at base. Perhaps then students might as well find out what being a nurse is all about. ??

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