A South London hospital has been forced into a u-turn after it was revealed frontline staff had to pay more than £500 per year to use the hospital car park.
NHS staff at Epsom and St Helier Hospital in Sutton were angry to find that the parking charge holiday they had enjoyed for months during the pandemic was being taken away.
Instead the front line staff were given a scratchcard for five days of the week at the cost of £11 and each time they parked their car in the hospital car park they had to scratch a day off.
“I can’t even afford a scratch card,” said one hospital porter who wished to remain anonymous. “I have to park down the backstreets when I go to work and walk from there.
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“You have to buy a £25 permit to display in your car then it’s £11 a week. I’m taking up a parking space of a Sutton resident because the Trust wants to charge me.”
But now, management at Epsom and St Helier decided to change the system back to free parking after a backlash from workers and GMB union.
Though there is a plan to bring in a priority parking system which is yet to be clarified and workers are concerned that they will miss out on parking again.
(Image: Jonathon Buckmaster)
“We all know what’s going to happen,” added the porter. “All the senior staff will get the parking and the rest of us will have to park somewhere else.
“I’m angry. It’s the same old story.”
According to research by GMB union, Epsom and St Helier hospital gained £3.3 million in parking charges last year.
More than 200 staff members have signed a petition objecting to the charges and delivered it to trust Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles.
Helen O’Connor, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “GMB welcomes this announcement but of course the devil is in the detail.
“Government minister Grant Shapps was clear in his announcement on Good Morning Britain that central government is covering the costs of hospital parking for staff, so GMB members are quite rightly requesting a refund of their hard-earned wages.
“These staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and are now demanding a refund of pay that is rightfully theirs.”
Epsom and St Helier hospital have said they will refund the parking charges from January 26 onwards.
A spokesperson from Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals said: “We have decided to continue offering free car parking for staff and we are incredibly grateful and proud of all our staff in everything they are doing right now.”
“During the unprecedented times of this pandemic, we have introduced a number of measures to support our amazing staff – including free hot meals every day, and a broad range of measures to aid staff health and wellbeing.”
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