NHS bosses in Northumberland urged to scrap staff parking charges permanently

NHS chiefs in Northumberland have been warned they face an exodus of staff if they start charging for parking again.

By James Harrison
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th May 2022, 3:05 pm

Free car parking for NHS hospital workers was brought in by former health secretary Matt Hancock in 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in a bid to ease mounting pressure on workers.

At the time, the move was thought necessary to ensure doctors, nurses and other health professionals were not reliant on struggling public transport networks or put at greater risk of spreading or contracting the virus.

But following the government’s decision to reverse the move in the wake of falling case rates, union bosses have urged hospital leaders in the North East to hold off bringing the fees back, in light of the growing cost of living crisis.

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“Bringing back costly parking charges won't help the NHS hang on to staff in in the current job market,” said Clare Williams, northern regional secretary at UNISON, a union.

"This move will add hundreds of pounds to the cost pressures already facing health staff and reduce morale even further.

“Those already on the brink of leaving the NHS may well see this as the final straw and head for the exit, just as the service needs experienced staff the most.

"The continuation of free parking and an inflation-busting pay rise is vital to stop more staff leaving NHS jobs this year."

The union has written to hospital trusts across the North East, calling for staff parking charges to be scrapped “permanently”.

It also claims stretched finances have seen more than a third of staff seek financial support from family or friends in the last year, while more than two fifths have taken on extra work “to make ends meet”.

A spokesperson for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “As part of its response to Covid-19, the government provided a subsidy which allowed NHS trusts to provide free parking to staff.

"This subsidy has now ended, but Northumbria has not reintroduced any parking charges for its staff at this stage.

“We appreciate that the rising cost of living is impacting on everyone, including NHS staff, and we are currently looking at a range of measures that we hope will help with some of these challenges for those in most need.”