More than 1,000 people have signed a petition against a ‘ridiculous’ price increase for hospital staff car parking permits.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs St Richard’s in Chichester, Worthing Hospital and Southlands Hospital in
Shoreham, has launched a new Green Travel Plan which ‘aims to reduce traffic congestion’ and help ‘to recruit more staff’.
The trust said investment for the ‘improvements’ was being partly sourced by change to the cost of staff parking permits – something that has sparked the creation of an online petition which says the price increase ‘adds insult to injury’ for staff.
The 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.”
Staff at St Richard’s Hospital have been told they can use a park and ride scheme in Fontwell, but people who have signed the petition said this would result in longer drives which are ‘worse for the environment’.
The permit prices are due to go up in October and a spokesman for the trust said that an employee in band five (£22,128-£28,746) who would have had to pay £17.50 per week, would have to pay £27 – an increase of 54 per cent – under the new rules.
Director of estates and facilities at the trust, 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 ten 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.”