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Monday, 09 April 2018

NHS staff charged up to £80 a week to park at hospitals - study

Written by Neil Lancefield

Three out of 10 hospitals charge staff for car parking, new figures show.

Doctors and nurses are expected to pay at 348 out of the 1,175 hospitals with parking facilities, according to NHS data.

The highest average charge for staff is £2 per hour at both the Edgware Community Hospital, north-west London and Birmingham Children's Hospital, analysis by motoring research charity the RAC Foundation revealed.

That is the equivalent of £80 for a 40-hour working week.

The highest average charge for patients is £3.20 per hour at St Thomas' Hospital, central London.

The data - taken from NHS Estates Return Information Collection - also shows that 132 hospitals now charge for disabled parking.

Department of Health guidance is for NHS organisations to ensure staff can reach sites "as safely, conveniently and economically as possible".

An investigation by the Press Association previously revealed that NHS hospitals made a record £175 million in 2016/17 from charging patients, visitors and staff for parking, up 6% on the year before.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: "Few parking issues are as incendiary as charging people to leave vehicles at hospitals, be they patients, visitors or staff.

"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.

"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."

Seventy-five members of staff at a hospital in Cardiff were left owing thousands of pounds in parking tickets last year. Some complained a lack of spaces left them forced to park in unauthorised areas.

Gerry O'Dwyer, senior employment relations adviser at the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Hefty parking charges are disadvantaging nursing staff who work around the clock to keep our NHS afloat.

"Many work through the night to care for patients and using public transport to get home isn't an option.

"Hospital car parks require running and maintenance costs but after years of pay restraint nursing staff should not be overcharged for doing their jobs.

"The Government isn't giving the NHS the funding it needs but struggling hospitals should not try to make money off their staff. Their goodwill won't last forever. We need reasonable car parking provision with reasonable and affordable charges."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Chris Radburn / PA Wire.