Tory ministers have sparked fury after saying free hospital car parking for NHS workers will be axed as coronavirus eases.
Councils and NHS trusts in England were given money by the government in March to waive fees for hospital workers during this unprecedented time. But health minister Edward Argar announced the support can’t continue indefinitely.
And the Department of Health and Social Care has now confirmed NHS workers will only benefit in certain circumstances in England once the pandemic eases.
While the government gave no timescale for free parking to end, and free parking will continue for some limited staff, unions, LibDems and Labour voiced their anger.
The British Medical Association said the policy had gone from Clap for Carers to Clamp for Carers.
Boris Johnson could now make yet another screeching U-turn after a Tory peer said axing free parking was strange and insisted it was not even on the table.
Baroness Nicky Morgan, a former Cabinet minister, stated stories based on the government’s statements had no basis and no decisions had been taken.
She informed Sky News that she was sure that it was something that will need to be looked at again and that it did seem quite strange given how hard our NHS and care workers had worked over the last few months.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on March 25 that the Government would cover the costs of car parking for NHS workers who he stated were going above and beyond every day at hospitals in England.
But the Department of Health has said the free parking will continue only for key patient groups and NHS workers in some cases as the pandemic eases, although no further timeline had been given.
Health Minister Edward Argar said the support to make free parking accessible can’t continue indefinitely and continued that the Government was looking at how long it would need to go on.
And replying to a written inquiry from Labour’s Rachael Maskell, he stated the provisions of free parking for National Health Service workers by NHS Trusts had not ended and nothing has altered since the announcement on 25 March.
However, free parking for staff had only been made attainable by backing from local authorities and independent providers and this help couldn’t continue indefinitely. Yet teachers and police officers don’t have to pay to park at work, but nurses do, and this is an immoral practice.
And hospital trusts are making millions of pounds by charging hard-pressed nurses for parking at work, and NHS trusts in England made about £103 million from car park fees last year.
About £78 million was paid by visitors and patients, while £25 million came from staff, and according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the burden is growing, with motorists paying £5 million more than in the previous year, and a survey revealed that nurses thought the system was grossly discriminatory, and that nurses should be excluded from the charges.
Parking costs for NHS nurses and other healthcare workers across the United Kingdom should be abolished because, with the ever-rising expense of nursing registration and petrol costs, it’s insane that nurses should be required to pay for the pleasure of parking the vehicle they use for going to work.
Exactly how far does the government and the NHS expect our much less than inflation pay rise to stretch? But Trusts say charges are needed because of the huge cost of car park maintenance, and to stop hospital land being abused by commuters and shoppers.
But nurses aren’t impressed. If you’re a factory worker, you’re not expected to pay to park at work, so why should nurses have to pay? And it shows a genuine lack of regard for the nursing profession.
No healthcare worker should have to pay to park at work. Driving to work is not a perk of the job, it’s an essential requirement and charging for car parking is an added tax on working.
The concept of charging for car parking is at odds with the spirit of the NHS, which is still bound to postulates of humanity and universality.
Parking charges stimulate more than just annoyance at cost and inconvenience, and they seem to strike against people’s sense of justice and fairness, and steep charges in England and Northern Ireland are in clear contrast to those in the rest of the UK.
Wales ended hospital car parking fees for workers, outpatients and visitants at most hospitals, and Scotland capped the charges at £3 per day and has now gone further, and Nicola Sturgeon announced that charges would be scrapped at 14 hospitals across the country.
Nurses using three car parks operated by private finance initiative contractors were not met by the new rule but the Scottish Government said it expected staff charges to be limited or reduced.
Northern Ireland health minister Michael McGimpsey introduced free car parking for severely sick patients and their families. But neither Northern Ireland nor England had any plans to eliminate fees for staff.
They didn’t believe it was a practical use of insufficient resources to subsidise car parking at hospitals for everyone. In England, hospital care parking charges are determined by individual trusts to meet the cost of operating and managing a car park, with numerous people saying that parking charges that were to be scrapped in Wales and Scotland but not in the rest of the United Kingdom was wrong.
And it wasn’t right that a chief executive on a six-figure salary paid the same to park as a band 5 staff nurse.
It’s not just about paying the fees, it’s the amount staff have to pay, and the plight of nurses and all healthcare workers who have to pay exorbitant car parking charges, and because decisions on car parking fees are made by organisations, the charges nurses face alter wildly from trust to trust.
At Addenbrooke’s Hospital, members of staff pay £2 per day to park, so a nurse working four shifts a week has to find £32 a month.
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which made £461,926 from staff parking in 2007-2008, charges workers £7.50 a month for a parking permit if they earn less than £13,750 a year, and £14 a month if they earn more.
Although permits are usually more affordable than paying a daily rate, staff are not automatically entitled to one and they can be difficult to get at some trusts, and even if they’re lucky enough to find one, it doesn’t guarantee them a free parking space.
And it’s been argued that free car parking at NHS hospitals in England would go against their environmental policies, and calls for free parking have been defined as environmentally negligent by public health organisations.
And it’s said that free car parking would effectively blight efforts to decrease the NHS carbon footprint from transport and would undermine efforts to get staff physically active, and it was recommended that NHS trusts make more effort to encourage staff, patients and visitors to use public transport, walk or cycle.
This argument may apply to those who have a choice in how they travel to work but it doesn’t take into account nurses for whom driving is the only way they can do their job, especially for those that reside in rural districts and have no alternative but to drive to work and there are no buses available so have to use a car, and it’s a pretty bad idea to punish people for driving to work when they have no alternative.
Especially when they’re working shift patterns and unsocial hours, it can make it difficult for nurses to use alternatives to the car.
Staff need to be able to travel to work 24/7 and public transport is not always accessible or reliable and is a non-starter in the more rural regions, and if trusts want staff to use other means of transportation, they have to provide more incentives.
And employers have a duty of care to look after the well-being of their workers, and it’s about putting staff safety first, and the strain on nurses is in contrast to the treatment of other key workers.
Under normal circumstances, police officers don’t pay to park at police stations, and spaces are reserved, where feasible, for those working shifts.
Teachers are also not expected to pay to park at schools, but NHS trusts are adamant that they don’t see parking charges as an easy way to make a profit, and that revenue from car parking is used for the maintenance of the car parks, and any profit is ploughed back into frontline services.
And a spokesperson for Addenbrooke’s Hospital added that if they didn’t charge for car parking, maintenance costs would come out of the patient care budget, but if trusts are looking solely at upkeep, charges should be costed properly and the amount people pay should be in proportion because numerous organisations are making a profit by charging extreme amounts.
And even though managers do have a tremendous problem juggling budgets, this argument is ethically weak, and making nurses pay to park at work jeopardises their safety.
Boris Johnson must have been so desperate to be Prime Minister – the other day he antagonised all care home workers and then he antagonised all NHS workers, who will he push away tomorrow?
But don’t worry, tomorrow he will frolic with tank top bum boys or pickaninny’s or women dressed at letterboxes, that will make him famous again with his core fan base.
Hospital parking charges are repugnant, and if this government had any sense of propriety they would scrap hospital parking fees for everyone, NHS staff, patients and people visiting their loved ones who are in hospital.
And it doesn’t come out of the NHS trusts budget – the hospital car parks are controlled by private companies and they take a huge chunk of the parking charges.
No one working for the NHS should have to pay a car parking charge on the premises of the hospital to go to work, and the charges for anyone parking at the hospital is sinful, corrupt and sickening.
And it’s evil and repugnant that people who go to work to look after people who are sick, save their lives and get them back on their feet have to pay to park their car at their place of work for the privilege of doing so, and pressing questions need to be demanded of Boris Johnson and his government because if Wales and Scotland have discarded hospital car park charges why can’t he do the same thing in England?
But then we shouldn’t be shocked, all Boris Johnson wants to do is get his fraudulent economy up and running, and it didn’t take them long, did it?
Their party song should be ‘money, money, money’, after all, it’s all the Tories worry about, and they’re never pleased until they get more.
Piers Morgan continually highlights the fact that NHS staff have to pay for parking and he made the government answerable, and it’s only because of him and his crusade that the government agreed to give free parking to NHS workers.
But now Boris Johnson is acting like the coronavirus no longer exists because of course, he wants to make money out of the NHS.
The sad thing is that because car parks have been privatised, there’s the middle man taking money from the whole sorry situation – this is Tory Britain at its worst.
It’s revolting that anyone who needs to go to the hospital has to spend absurd amounts in parking costs whether their there for treatment or someone visiting a loved one who’s in hospital, and it’s even more sickening that NHS workers have to pay to park.
The government can’t even claim that all parking charges help finance the NHS as the car parks are controlled by private companies and they take a huge chunk of the money, and this is just a slap in the face for NHS workers and it just confirms that Boris Johnson and the government’s recent praise of them was artificial and hypocritical.
And then the government are making NHS workers from abroad pay to use the NHS themselves should they get sick. Boris Johnson pledged to scrap that but there’s no indication of that happening yet.
Boris Johnson is a worthless, lying, sleaze bag and most people think of him and his clown followers as collaborators who in other times in history would be put against a wall and executed.
All in this together, I don’t think so and people in government are only there to line their own pockets, and this is sickening because we all support our NHS and this government goes back on its word.
The revolting Tories should be booted out because Boris Johnson doesn’t have a clue how to govern the country, and it seems like bumbling Boris Johnson is bestowing his appreciation to the NHS saving his life and he then goes and kicks them in the pocket.
And I hope that everyone who voted this repugnant party is proud of themselves. Doctors and nurses et cetera do an astonishing job and now this government have given them the two-finger gesture.
This must have caused alarm bells to ring in all departments, yet another slap in the face from this government for all our beloved NHS workers who’ve served so tirelessly during this frightful pandemic.
And our hearts should go out to every doctor, nurse and care worker and anyone else who works in the NHS under such a stressful time, but at least when the next general election comes around, you’ll know who not to give your vote to.
But the Tories are bound to triumph again in 2024 – the momentum will make sure of that at the next Labour conference, although it will depend on what their intentions are because it won’t be Brexit this time.
Free parking is the very least the government can do for NHS workers for all the wonderful work they’ve done in caring for people, and hospitals get less than a quarter of the car park revenue – the companies running the car parks make the most in running costs and expenses et cetera.
Of course, Boris Johnson was entitled to have his life saved the same as everybody else, but then he booted 30,000 elderly patients from NHS hospitals into care homes to free up beds for COVID 19 patients, and then he took up an NHS bed himself when he caught coronavirus, and he didn’t go to a private hospital which would have seemingly been better funded and better equipped.
Or would that have been a bad political decision to choose a private hospital instead of the NHS as that would confirm what the public already know, which is the NHS is massively underfunded?
And it might seem pleasing to see Boris Johnson clapping for the NHS, but it doesn’t actually prove that he cares, it’s merely a publicity stunt.