Fury as NHS staff demanded to pay £ 10 a day to park in hospital in sick joke
NHS heroes at one of the UK’s worst-hit hospitals by Covid-19 are now being asked to pay up to £ 10 a day to park.
Darent Valley Hospital in Kent has resumed instructing staff to park for work despite the ongoing pandemic.
The hospital had provided free parking for all staff, but has now withdrawn this offer from 1,600 employees without free permits.
The NHS trust insists it needs spaces for patients who are being treated for routine care in greater numbers and that permits are prioritized for staff who need them most.
However, local activists started an online petition including 1,200 signatures calling for the charges to be removed for all staff.
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One signer said: “I have to walk in the dark to my car and come back and it’s not safe or fair.”
The patient rates that many NHS staff now have to pay are £ 1.50 for an hour, £ 8 for up to six hours and £ 10 for up to 24 hours.
The move this month from May comes despite the government instructing the NHS not to charge staff.
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said: “Charging NHS staff who risked their lives during the pandemic to park at work is a bad joke.
“After years of conservative cuts, the NHS trusts are struggling, we know that. But getting money from hard workers is not the solution.
“During the first lockdown, ministers heeded GMB’s demands and agreed to free parking, but it was quickly lifted despite we are still in the midst of a pandemic.
“The government must now legislate for free parking for hospital staff once and for all.”
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Sara Gorton, Health Officer at UNISON, said: “The government says parking should be free for staff during the pandemic.
“No trust should charge health workers who have been through so much in the past year.”
Just four months earlier, the hospital was on the verge of being overwhelmed by Covid cases.
It was placed on Critcon 4 – the highest alert level – and was then the only hospital in the UK to have this emergency level.
He has not since reported any cases of Covid, but there are fears that traumatized staff may be on the verge of burnout.
A message to staff seen by the Mirror states: “Visitor parking lots will revert to the visitor parking lot.
“The parking staff in the latter will have to pay the full amount for the duration of their stay.”
He continued, “We know this will be an unpopular change for many of our employees and regret the inconvenience it may cause, but we cannot see any alternative.”
Sign the petition on this change.org page
The government insists that any loss of NHS parking revenue should be covered by its ‘Covid-19 reimbursement’ funding provided to trusts since October.
However, sources told the Mirror that this represents a multitude of pandemic costs and does not cover the entire financial position of the black hole trusts.
Unlicensed staff who cannot afford very high prices are forced to find places on the surrounding roads and nearby housing estates.
Laura Flood, a local resident who started the petition, said: “Staff at Darent Valley and UK hospital have worked tirelessly to save this country and its people.
“The bravery and courage of every staff member amazes me, having been admitted to Darent Valley myself, I am totally in awe and sincerely believe that we could not be in safer hands.
“There is no way to charge them just to go to work every day given what they have to deal with.”
Problems with motorists using surrounding roads as “overflow parking lots” have been reported in recent years.
The hospital’s parking lots are run by a company called Saba, which also operates parking lots at Milton Keynes University Hospital and Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.
It is not known how much Saba makes from parking lots and how much revenue the hospital trust makes. They did not respond when contacted by the Mirror.
Dartford And Gravesham NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said its free permit system prioritizes clinical staff, staff with disabilities and shifts.
A spokesperson said: “Supporting the safety and well-being of our staff is a top priority.
“In accordance with government guidelines, parking has been and continues to be free for all staff parking lots at Darent Valley Hospital.
“While there is room for the majority of staff to park, we use a free rush hour permit system to prioritize clinical staff, staff with disabilities and anyone working shifts.
“Some managers and administrative staff who work during office hours unfortunately have to park for free in the surrounding streets or use the buses that enter the hospital.”
A government spokesperson said: ‘NHS staff have played an incredible role at every stage of this pandemic and we are clear – they should not be charged for parking when they are at work.
“We are providing the funding for NHS staff to ensure they have free parking at the hospital throughout the pandemic response.
“At the same time, we are helping hospitals provide free parking for thousands of other NHS patients and visitors, including people with disabilities, frequent outpatients, parents of overnight children and night shift staff. “