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UNISON criticises staff parking charge increase at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds





A hospital trust’s decision to increase parking charges for staff has been slammed as ‘another kick in the teeth for workers still struggling to get by’.

All parking charges at West Suffolk Hospital for patients, visitors and staff will rise from Monday by 4.2 per cent in line with the current Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Staff tariffs will move from a flat fee of £2 to £2.10 per day.

One of the car parks at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mecha Morton
One of the car parks at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mecha Morton

Charges were reintroduced for workers in July following more than three years of free parking during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was despite a staff protest organised by union UNISON, which also launched a petition challenging the move and attracted about 1,500 signatures.

Caroline Hennessy, UNISON eastern head of health, said the parking charge rise was another kick in the teeth for health workers still struggling to get by and waiting for a pay rise that was due two months ago.

Caroline Hennessy, UNISON eastern head of health. Picture: Submitted
Caroline Hennessy, UNISON eastern head of health. Picture: Submitted

She said: “The trust has already had to stop its lowest-paid staff — cleaners, healthcare assistants, porters and others — paying for parking directly from their wages as it would take them below the minimum wage.

“But despite recognising there’s a real problem for staff, the trust is compounding the issue by increasing charges.

“NHS staff don’t need another tax on coming to work, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSNFT) should scrap these fees.”

WSNFT earned £1,084, 639 from parking between the start of April 2022 and the end of March 2023.

Parking charges at West Suffolk Hospital are increasing for patients, visitors and staff
Parking charges at West Suffolk Hospital are increasing for patients, visitors and staff

Craig Black, executive director of resources at the trust, said increasing parking charges was a tough decision.

“We offer free parking and concessionary rates for the individuals and families in greatest need because we understand how difficult it can be when you or a loved one are unwell,” he said.

“Please be reassured that any surplus income the trust makes from car parking is reinvested into patient care and services after regular expenses are deducted.”

This included car parking management fees and investment in a park and ride shuttle bus service for staff in Bury.

When staff charges were reinstated, concessions were made including free parking for blue badge holders and for those working a night shift who arrive after 5.30pm and leave before 9.30am.

Additional concessions have been agreed to include free parking for pre-registration students.

For patients and visitors, up to one hour will rise from £2.20 to £2.30, one to two hours from £4.20 to £4.40, two to three hours from £6.40 to £6.70 and three to four hours from £8.40 to £8.80.

Meanwhile, four to five hours will increase from £10.60 to £11.10, five to six hours from £12.70 to £13.20 and over six hours from £12.70 to £13.20.

The tariffs have remained the same since April 1, 2019.