Health Trust halts ‘unfair’ car parking increase amid hospital staff protests

Staff car parking Eastbourne District General Hospital (Photo by Jon Rigby)
Staff car parking Eastbourne District General Hospital (Photo by Jon Rigby)

East Sussex Healthcare Trust (ESHT) has cancelled a hospital car parking increase which outraged hospital staff.

Workers needing to park at Eastbourne and Hastings hospitals will no longer be facing a price hike in April – which would have seen costs rise from 66 per cent for some staff and 100 per cent for others.

Staff car parking Eastbourne District General Hospital (Photo by Jon Rigby)

Staff car parking Eastbourne District General Hospital (Photo by Jon Rigby)

Lunchtime protests were organised in response to the news, as GMB Union argued the rise would cancel out the NHS staff members’ pay rise.

NHS staff protest against ‘immoral’ parking price hikes at Eastbourne and Hastings hospitals

But in a letter to staff this week, ESHT chief executive Dr Adrian Bull announced a climbdown from the unpopular idea. He said, “Having listened to your comments along with direct feedback from individual members of staff and at the various staff meetings or forums that I attend, we have decided to cancel the further increase on the April 1, 2019.

“The challenges that we have with car parking remain. The Trust is not able to have sufficient spaces for everyone to park at these sites. I am concerned to ensure that members of staff who are obliged to bring their car to work for personal, operational or clinical reasons are able to do so while those who do not need to do so are able to find alternative means of travel.

“Increasing staff car parking charges is always a difficult decision and not one that is taken lightly. I hope that our decision to cancel the increase proposed for the April shows the Trust has listened to the concerns that have been raised by the JSC and members of staff.”

Reacting to the news, Gary Palmer, regional organiser of GMB union, said, “A huge well done to GMB Members and ESHT staff for standing up to argue how unfair the Trust staff parking increases was!

“The proposed 66 per cent and 100 per cent parking increase, along with the recent disappointing NHS pay increase for hardworking staff have seen many of our members and staff worse off. Once again this makes them feel unsupported by the employer and a government who should appreciate them the most.

“I remain concerned though that the trust briefing doesn’t go far enough in reversing exorbitant parking increases and that this might only be a temporary one-year reprieve. But there is no reason why, when it raises its ugly head on the Trust agenda again, that this time the other staff side organisations might decide to join with the GMB Union and Trust staff to oppose its implementation.”

The lunchtime demos planned at both hospitals on September 4 and 5 have been suspended, he added.