Unions have criticized an NHS trust’s decision to recover parking charges from hospital staff.
Parking charges, dubbed “stealth taxes”, were temporarily suspended in March 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Some National Health Service Trusts brought staff charges back in April this year, when they were reintroduced nationally as the government ended its support for free parking.
The Durham and Darlington County Trust stopped at that time and staff parking remained free, although visitors had to pay from March.
But staff charges will return on October 1.
A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Nationwide, the NHS announced that hospital parking charges for staff should be reintroduced from 1 April 2022, after being paused for both for staff and visitors since the early part of the pandemic. .
“As a Trust, we have taken the time to review all of our options and recognize that this is an issue that affects so many, and we are committed to reintroducing car parking charges in a way that causes the least disruption.
“In accordance with the regional trusts, it has been agreed that staff car parking charges will resume from 1st October 2022 at the same rate as in 2019/2020. Visitor parking charges restarted in March 2022”.
Alex Wilson, national officer for Yorkshire and the North East of England for the hospital doctors’ union, the Association of Hospital Consultants and Specialists, said: “The reintroduction of hospital parking charges for staff imposes a stealth tax on employees. from the NHS who work hard just to show up for their change.
“It comes at a time when heating and eating are financially challenging for many hospital workers and follows years of wage awards below inflation.
“This additional pressure will fall on people who are already suffering from burnout and burnout due to their dedication throughout the many challenges the NHS has faced and continues to face.
“Employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees, so when they have to pay to park in a secure place when attending anti-social shifts, it shows the true value placed on NHS staff.
“This decision mocks the daily applause and supposed appreciation of hard-working NHS staff who have put themselves in harm’s way for the good of the country.”
UNISON Northern Regional Secretary Clare Williams said: “With the cost of petrol, food and energy skyrocketing and a government committed to keeping NHS wages low, the last thing healthcare workers need is It’s a new charge when you come to work.
“Those already on the verge of leaving the NHS may well see this as the final straw and head for the exit, just when the service needs more experienced staff.
“The continuation of free parking and an inflation-fighting pay rise is vital to prevent more staff from leaving their NHS jobs this year.
“The trust should reconsider these parking charges. It is not correct to charge health personnel for coming to work.”
Councilman Kevin Nicholson, Darlington Town Hall cabinet member for health and housing, suggests trusted leaders think “more creatively” about how to help staff.
He said: “I know how well the leadership team at County Durham and the Darlington NHS Foundation Trust have supported their employees in recent years.
“Rightly so, the public finds it difficult to understand that employees of such a valuable public service have to pay to park at their workplace.
“I am confident that the leadership team, given their extensive experience in properly managing their local budgets, can think more creatively about how to support frontline staff during these increasingly challenging times.”
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust resumed charging for staff car parking in July.
A 3% pay rise was announced in July for NHS staff, recognized for their contribution during the “unprecedented year” of the pandemic.
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