Hospital staff angry with car park fees

STAFF at a Suffolk hospital have reacted with fury after learning that an increase in car parking fees will virtually cancel out their recent pay rise.

STAFF at a Suffolk hospital have reacted with fury after learning that an increase in car parking fees will virtually cancel out their recent pay rise.

The West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust Board have announced a 15 per cent increase on parking charges for staff, which will mean they will have to pay an extra five pence a day from August.

Graham Kendall, chairman of the West Suffolk Hospital Trust Council, predicted staff's morale would be affected by the decision, which is expected to bring in a total £44,800 for the hospital.

Mr Kendall, a porter and the hospital's UNISON representative, said: "It is only an extra five pence but it takes care of their three per cent pay rise straight away.

"They got wind of the possible increase and the ones I have spoken to were absolutely livid.

"Most of them are on low pay anyway and I am sure they will be gutted. They feel they are paying to keep the hospital going and this will certainly affect morale."

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One member of staff, who did not want to be named, said morale was low even before the decision was made to increase parking fees at the Bury St Edmunds hospital.

He said: "Staff are not very happy at all and this issue of increased parking has added to the stress we are under.

"It is fair to say morale is very low at West Suffolk Hospital and that staff are not being very well treated at the moment. There are cases of bully-boy tactics in the hospital to achieve Government figures which creates even more pressure."

Patients or visitors to the hospital will also have to pay a set £2 daily fee, regardless of how long they spend on site and how many times they visited the hospital during any one day.

The money made from the increase in parking charges will help pay for car park maintenance and improvements.

A 240-space extension, costing £540,000, is currently being built taking the capacity to more than 1,200, but a up to 9,000 vehicles currently use the site on a daily basis .

A spokesman for the hospital said: "We have looked at how to try and resolve the problem of parking with staff, visitors and patients.

"We have come up with the £2 per stay rather than a banded system in response to what people have said.

"We hope we will have positive feedback from staff and patients and that they understand the situation. We continue to look at ways to alleviate the pressure of parking too many cars on the site.

"We would urge people visiting the hospital to, whenever they can, take the environmentally friendly option, by using public transport, cycling or walking if practical."

The decision to increase fees was finalised at the West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust board meeting on Friday .

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