‘EXHAUSTED and broken’ NHS staff at Coventry and Rugby’s hospitals have been told they will have to pay even more to park where they work.
The cost of monthly staff parking permits at University Hospital Coventry and St Cross Hospital in Rugby will go up from £43 to £50 from April 1, taking the yearly bill up by £84 to £600.
Parking was free for staff during the pandemic – but they have been given just two weeks’ notice that charges will be reintroduced at the new higher rate when Government subsidies cease at the end of this month.
A petition has been launched by ‘exhausted and broken’ staff who ‘have just worked flat out on the front line of a pandemic’, urging the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) which runs the hospitals to reconsider.
Another UHCW staff member, who did not want to be identified, told The Observer the price rise was ‘a kick in the teeth’ which ‘hurts my soul’.
They said: “£50 a month is extortionate, there really is no justification for the blatant profiteering that is happening. UHCW outsources the parking, so someone somewhere is getting very rich off the back of poorly paid NHS workers.
“With the cost of living going up, it really is a huge strain on my wage and I frequently question whether to move to the private sector where parking is usually free – or get an entirely different job.”
They said working during the pandemic was ‘stressful and scary’ and left them with anxiety issues.
“I received support from UHCW to deal with my anxiety, and I have only recently felt a weight lift off my shoulders. This parking cost has placed some of that weight back on my shoulders again.
“I started this job to support the people I walk among every day, to make a difference to peoples lives. I love my job and it saddens me when I consider leaving due to the cost of parking.
“I know this is not something UHCW will be able to change due to the car parks being outsourced by them. It is a shame the money we pay isn’t put back into patient care, rather it is put into someone’s pocket.
“I wouldn’t want to come across as complaining about UHCW as they have been very supportive during the pandemic, and I feel the parking costs are a Government issue.”
A UHCW spokesperson said the ‘difficult decision’ to reinstate charges at an increased cost reflected inflation rises and increased running and maintenance costs since April 2020.
They said: “During this period, the charge to the Trust has increased annually in line with contractual inflation applied by the PFI contract. The cost increase is therefore largely driven by three years’ inflation applied to the cost of a pass that we have not previously passed onto individuals.
“We regret this necessity and want to make clear all money generated goes directly towards improvements and running costs of our car parks so budgets for patient care do not fund them.”
Visit https://tinyurl.com/2p9cdbjr to sign the petition, which has so far been signed by over 9,600 people.