Hospital parking charges: Norfolk trust staff to protest against ‘swingeing hikes’

Health union warns it could ballot members on industrial action 

Health union warns it could ballot members on industrial action

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Nurses and other staff at a Norfolk hospital will stage a demonstration next week against a rise in car parking charges.

Workers at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn plan to hold the protest on 29 May, as the trust’s board meets to discuss parking charges that unions say threaten to cancel out the benefit of the proposed NHS pay rise.

They may even ask members to resort to industrial action over the issue.

A petition signed by more than 1,400 employees calls for the trust to reconsider the increases. Health union Unite said many of the hospital's 3,000 staff face a doubling of the current charges by April 2020.

The union claims that the new tariffs would mean staff on pay bands 5-7 would pay £22 a month, up from £15.96, a figure that would rise to £27.50 in April 2019 and £33 in April 2020. 

Lack of public transport options

Unite said the decision is made worse by a lack of public transport in rural Norfolk, especially for those working nights, weekends and bank holidays. 

Unite lead officer for health in East Anglia Mark Robinson said: ‘Unite has discovered the trust already receives more than £1.1 million a year in car parking revenue, of which a significant proportion comes from employees. However, the last accounts demonstrated that only £260,000 was spent on the car park during 2016-17. 

‘Wipe out benefit of 3% pay offer’

‘Staff are being used as a milch cow because of the serious current underfunding of the NHS by the government.

‘The proposed increases have infuriated staff at the QEH, and would effectively wipe out any benefit from the 3% pay offer for NHS staff presently being voted on by health union members. 

‘These swingeing hikes would see QEH staff paying more than at the overwhelming majority of other trusts in East Anglia, a region notorious for poor public transport links.

‘Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff will be outside the board meeting on Tuesday to show their strength of feeling.

Considering industrial action

'While they understand the trust’s financial position, they do not believe it should be the hard-working staff, who have barely seen their pay rise over the last seven years, who pick up the tab. 

‘If the trust does not remove these proposals then Unite and other health unions will consider balloting its members for some form of industrial action.’

A QEH spokesperson said: 'We are still hopeful that the protest will not go ahead but are awaiting confirmation of this from the trade unions.' 

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