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

Eastbourne District General Hospital DGH car park
Eastbourne District General Hospital DGH car park

NHS staff will be taking part in lunchtime demos to protest against parking increases which have been branded ‘immoral’.

GMB Union says the price hike outstrips the recent pay award increase as East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) staff protest against paying more to come to work.

But ESHT argues the increase in demand for parking spaces over recent years has forced them to address the problem and incentive schemes like car sharing.

The car parking charges will initially increase from 60p to 80p for part time staff / Band 1 and 2, and from £1 to £1.50 for all other staff.

There will be a further rise on April 1, 2019 taking the cost to £1 for part time staff / Bands 1 and 2, and £2 for all other staff – which will equate to a rise of around 66 per cent and 100 per cent respectively.

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said this could leave those already struggling in ‘despair’.

He said: “Actions like this make you wonder if anyone at senior management and board level have any idea what its actually like to try to budget on an ever decreasing valued salary.

“To put up staff parking charges at the same time people have started to realise just how poorly they had faired from the recent disappointing NHS pay award, shows a total lack of understanding of how even a small change to income and/or out goings, can leave those already potential struggling in despair.

“ESHT staff like other NHS employees found they are to get less pay than they were anticipating and deserve by the government, and then find out that their uncaring employer wants them to pay more to come to work… to earn less money!”

He added that ESHT claims about reducing parking congestion and promoting ‘greener’ travel were ‘disingenuous’ and ‘ridiculous’.

“This is about revenue, it always is at ESHT,” said Mr Palmer, “Reducing staff car parking numbers will just see the trust then looking to increase car parking charges for those who still choose to drive to work even faster as parking revenues decrease and to release staff parking spaces to increase public parking to again increase revenue even further.

“NHS staff shouldn’t have to pay to park when turning up for work and having an employer trying then to make an increased profit from you is possibly immoral.”

He encouraged staff to sign an online petition and join in the demos outside Eastbourne and Hastings’ hospitals on September 4 and 5.

Responding, a spokesperson for ESHT said, “This is the first time staff car parking tariffs have been increased since 2012. In that time we have seen an increased demand for staff parking spaces at both main hospital sites.

“We need to address this problem which frustrates many members of staff at the start of the working day. Our approach is to increase parking capacity whilst at the same time introducing schemes to reduce demand for spaces over the longer term.

“Charges must be set to incentivise use of the car sharing scheme as well as alternative methods of travel to the sites.

“The increase in funds will be used to help fund additional parking spaces that have been identified on both sites, close to the main hospitals and also help to fund healthier transport schemes that will encourage members of staff to use alternative means of travel to the hospital sites.”