Sussex NHS staff prepare for parking charge increase

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Health

A new 'Green Travel Plan' being launched by Western Sussex Hospitals spurred a petition to block any parking fee increase.

The scheme, which aims to reduce traffic congestion in Chichester, Worthing and Shoreham, has been criticised in a petition for the NHS Trust not to increase the cost of parking and 'force staff' to use the park and ride.

The petition currently has 922 of 1,000 signatures.

Chichester Sussex facebook page said in a post: "I really cannot believe that healthcare professionals are being charged the same amount as a gym membership just to be able to turn up to work...

"This is an utterly disgraceful taxation on a sector that has seen poor pay rises for a number of years.

"The people who keep us alive when we are unwell get a ridiculously low one per cent rise and then get charged far more than that to continue turning up for work."

Under the new rules, the cost of a permit will be relative to the employee's pay bracket and part-time staff will receive a 30 per cent discounts.

Director of estates and facilities, David Jones, said: "There are nearly 10,000 people working in our three hospitals and our staff car parks have been over subscribed for many years, leaving the large majority of staff have to park off-site or travel to work by other means."

As our trust continues to grow and the roads around our hospitals become more congested and polluted by traffic generally, we all need to take action to reduce the impact travel to and from work had on the environment."

“Our Green Travel Plan aims to do that by making it easier for staff to choose alternative means of transport. Staff working groups spent 18 months looking at all the options and suggested better facilities for walkers, cyclists and bikers, as well as discounts on public transport and new park-and-ride car parks served by a free-to-use minibus service.

“These improvements require investment, which is being partly sourced by a change to the cost of staff parking permits, which in October will go up for the first time in 10 years.

“Paying more will never prove popular, but we have done our best to ensure the new charges are fair and compare favourably to other trusts and local authority car parking. Colleagues can also apply for on-street parking permits close to the hospitals or park for free just ten minutes away by foot.”

"As we grow it becomes more difficult to recruit and retain staff if they are frustrated when travelling to and from work. However, by providing better facilities and new alternatives we are confident more people will choose to join our outstanding trust."

A spokesman for the trust said that an employee in band five (£22,128 - £28,746) who would have had to pay £17.50, would have to pay £27 under the new rules, which see the first price hike in ten years.

According to Western Sussex Hospitals, the Green Travel Plan is 'making it easier' for people to take alternative modes of transport to the trust's sites, including offering 15 per cent off rail travel and discounted bus fares.

Chief executive, Marianne Griffiths, said: "Our new Green Travel Plan is the accumulation of more than 18 months' work, drawing on staff surveys, workshops and corporate best-practice to reduce the environmental impact of staff travel and the adverse effects of parking pressures on staff, our ability to recruit and, ultimately, patient experience."

See the petition at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/huge-price-rise-to-park-at-work-or-forced-park-and-ride?bucket=