NHS staff ripped off over hospital parking

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I am writing to inform you of Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Hospitals and how the nursing and other staff are being taken for a ride by the parking companies.

Staff are having to get to work anywhere from an hour-and-a-half early just to get a parking space. The alternative is that staff try to get to work just in time, only to find themselves waiting anywhere from 15 minutes to almost an hour to get a parking space. This then results in staff being late and nurses can miss the handover and therefore cannot be certain what has happened to patients overnight as they have to commence work straight away.

Ironically, the majority of staff are paying to park at the hospital directly from their wages which amounts to an average of approximately £115 a year. Although the parking companies state they cannot promise a parking space it is a different story when staff cannot even get in a car park. This often results in staff parking where they should not but, due to patient care needs, they feel they must do this because of their compassion.

On these occasions staff will be ticketed and fined anywhere from £30 to £65 if not paid within a certain time limit. The parking companies also expect staff that cannot get into the car parks to then go into the visitors’ car parks and pay for a visitors’ ticket for the day which can add up to an additional sum of approximately £3.60.

In my own case, I tried to get into four car parks only to be told they are full and, on trying a fifth car park, the machine said my entry card was invalid. I knew for a fact it was not. Due to trying so many car parks, and a much-needed desire to use the toilet, I parked on a crossed area and left an A4 sized note in my car explaining the circumstances and leaving a phone number for parking staff to call me so I could come and move the car. I returned to my car to find a parking ticket.

I appealed this and explained all but was emailed to say I had lost my appeal. I think the parking firm would rather I wet my pants than them miss out on fines monies.

As NHS staff have not had a pay rise for the last five years and are now suffering an actual 10% loss of pay and the recent Government has, yet again, picked on NHS staff due to them knowing strike action is unlikely due to this being a compassionate profession, we are now being penalised again.

Because we are a captive market for these parking companies, we have little choice but to pay these fines and exorbitant parking fees. I feel hospitals should stop these rip-off parking fees altogether as does almost every nurse I know and we should get free parking as we have no other choice but to park at the hospital. I eventually appealed my parking fine under the parking on private land appeals and won but I am not sure many nurses know about this. Also, bear in mind the visitors to both of these hospitals can suffer the same consequences I did.

Roy Wallbank

Killington Street, Burnley

In response, Mr Martin Morgan, director of estates and facilities at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The numbers of car parking spaces permitted on our hospital sites are determined by the local planning authority. We are fortunate here at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust as we have liaised with the planning authority and been granted permission to increase that number at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

“As a result, the Trust offers extensive parking spaces for staff, patients and visitors at both the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Hospitals.

“Penalty tickets are issued to drivers when their vehicles are parked in a manner which compromises the safety of others.

“Staff do benefit from subsidised car parking and the Trust, together with the local council, supports green travel by running car share and cycle to work schemes in an effort to reduce congestion and encourage staff to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Finally, we would point out that staff should not park in patient car parks.”