North Norfolk NHS staff urged to have their say over ‘distasteful’ car parking charges

The North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital, where parking charges for staff will be traill

The North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital, where parking charges for staff will be trailled in coming months. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

NHS workers at a north Norfolk hospital have been urged to have their say over 'distasteful' staff car parking charges set to be introduced on site.

Car parking charges for staff at North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital will be trialled on the site next month.

And the Norfolk Community Heath and Care Trust (NCH&C), who operate the hospital, say the scheme will improve the car parks and allow them to direct more funding to improving patient care.

But union representatives say these charges are unfair and have called on staff to have their say ahead of the pilot scheme's start on Monday, May 20.

A leaflet circulated among staff at the hospital, and seen by this newspaper, encouraged them to contact their representatives.

It stated: '[We] want to continue to support you in the fight against unfair parking charges.'

Unison branch secretary Rad Kerrigan said: 'The trust has been rolling out parking charges at various sites since 2015.

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'We've not been in support but have negotiated as best we can.

And Mr Kerrigan said the union would oppose the charges, and said: 'We're in the early stages [and] intend to talk to the staff.'

He added: 'My personal view, as a Unison branch secretary, is that I don't think it's appropriate for NHS staff to pay to park at work. The NHS has been chronically underfunded for the last seven to nine years.

'Trusts up and down the country are doing all they can to recover costs. It becomes somewhat distasteful when those costs are passed onto staff.'

Mark Page, NCH&C assistant director of estates and facilities said: 'Charging staff for parking is standard across NHS trusts.

'Parking is a limited resource which is costly to maintain. We are in the process of introducing parking charges at all sites to help improve operational management, so more funding can be targeted to the improvement of patient care.

'Each NCH&C site with a car park has had, or will have, a full consultation with staff.

'We want to ensure staff are well informed and understand their input to the process is fundamental to any changes.

'We promote sustainable travel and encourage staff when possible to leave cars at home, use public transport or a cycle scheme.'

A consultation was undertaken at Kelling Hospital which revealed issues including limited public transport, meaning car parking charges were not implemented.