NHS staff will pay to park at work from tomorrow
Parking fees for staff working in hospitals were waived during the Covid-19 pandemic but will be re-introduced from 1 April.
Health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed that the benefit would end this week, despite key workers in their NHS risking their lives during the pandemic.
Javid said: “Free parking in hospital car parks for NHS staff introduced during the pandemic will also come to an end on 31 March. However, over 93% of NHS trusts that charge for car parking have implemented free parking for those in greatest need, including NHS staff working overnight.”
“On behalf of the government, I would like to record my thanks to everyone who has worked tirelessly to keep people safe over the last two years and whose efforts have enabled us to move to the next stage of the Covid-19 response.”
The move was slammed by unions who calculated that hard up NHS staff face a whopping £90m car parking bill from tomorrow.
Figures from NHS Digital show in the financial year 2019/20 – the year before charges were lifted for the pandemic – health workers paid £90.1m in car parking fees.
Workers in the Midlands paid out the most, forking out £18m in the year, followed by the North West (£17m), then the North East and Yorkshire (£16m).
Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: “It’s almost like the health secretary has a personal vendetta against NHS staff. During the worst cost of living crisis in a generation he’s hell-bent on forcing them to swallow yet another real terms pay cut.
“Now follows the real insult to injury, he’s making them pay to park at work. Health workers are on their knees following a two-year pandemic – they need help and support, not being repeatedly kicked when they are down by the government.
“GMB calls on the government to restore this funding and on employers to do the right thing and scrap the reintroduction of local parking charges.”
Sara Gorton, Unison head of health, said: “This is no way for the NHS to hang on to staff in in the current job market. Parking charges will add hundreds of pounds to the massive cost pressures already facing health staff and reduce their 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.
“More than a third (39%) of staff have had to ask family or friends for financial support in the last year, according to Unison research. More than two fifths (43%) say they’re taking on extra work to make ends meet. This is the reality facing health workers. An inflation-busting pay rise is vital to stop more staff leaving NHS jobs this year.”