NURSES at Sunderland Royal Hospital are facing a 30 per cent price hike to park their cars at the site, the Echo can reveal.
Union bosses today slammed management for implementing the increase, which will see staff permits to park in hospital car parks go up from £20 a month, to £30.
A “super user” premium scheme is also available for £60 a month, providing a guaranteed space in the royal’s new multi-storey car park, although this is intended for use by consultants and senior managers at the trust.
The new regulations come into force on November 1, the same day that the multi-storey car park, which has more than 400 new spaces, will be opened.
Hospital bosses today said the rise was necessary because of the “increased costs of continued investment” in the facility, but unions argued it is unfair at a time when staff are striking over pay.
Wearside health lead for Unison, Ann Clay, told the Echo: “It’s a shocking increase at a time when wages are not going up. People simply can’t afford it.
“Staff can choose to sacrifice some of their salary towards the cost of it, but I don’t think that’s right either.
“A lot of staff come from far away to work and they don’t have time to park off the hospital site if they can’t get a space.
“What I find appalling is management’s attitude. It’s just been announced and the staff have to get on with it.”
Ms Clay said changes to the scheme could mean further parking woes for those living close to the hospital.
She added: “I really think this is going to drive the problem of parking at the hospital back out onto the streets around the area.”
Another member of staff, who contacted the Echo anonymously, said: “Once again the frontline, low-paid workers are hit in the pocket. It’s no wonder the NHS is having strikes.”
A spokesman for City Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The trust has invested significantly to build a new multi-storey car park which is due to open on November 1 – with the Sorley Street (laundry) car park, this will provide an additional 500 spaces on site.
“We have undertaken a full review of our car-parking strategy, including our existing tariffs, and, unfortunately, because of the ever-increasing costs of continued investment and the requirement to provide a safe and secure facility, it has become necessary to increase our car-parking charges for staff.
“As from November 1, a monthly staff pre-paid permit will be £30 and a daily staff permit will be £2.50. A £60 monthly premium staff car-parking permit is also being introduced, providing a guaranteed space in the premier parking areas in the new multi-storey car park.
“The average cost per day for a full-time member of staff who purchases a £30 pre-paid permit is £1.36, or 18.5p per hour. If they opt to pay for this via salary sacrifice, it will be about 91p per day, or 12p per hour.
“We are committed to supporting the trust’s green travel plan, which includes the cycle to work scheme and generous discounts on public transport, although we appreciate that for some staff, using a car is a necessity. Although we realise that any increases in parking charges are unwelcome, our obligation as a busy acute hospital trust is to provide constantly developing, safe and secure traffic management, ensuring easy access for emergency vehicles and for patients and relations, as well as staff.”