Don’t penalise nurses for driving to work

NHS trusts must play fair when it comes to car parking charges, says Graham Scott

Like most of the population, nurses usually have to take some form of transport to reach work and return home afterwards. Unlike most people, however, their working day invariably starts or finishes at an unsocial hour, with at least one of the journeys being completed alone in the dark.

Buses and trains have often returned to their depots by the time nurses knock off after a late shift. Those that are still running are likely to be populated by people who have spent the evening in the pub.

Given such safety concerns, it is hardly surprising that so many nurses choose to drive to work. But this presents a different problem: will they be able to find a parking space, and how much will that cost?

Complex issue

Both are thorny issues. With the NHS struggling for cash, how can employers justify spending money on building and maintaining car parks over patient care? Those who pay to use public transport can argue with justification that it is unfair to subsidise parking for colleagues who drive.

Most organisations strive to find the right balance, charging just enough to encourage appropriate use of public transport, but not so much that they make staff resentful.

Those trusts that are getting it wrong are either charging over the odds in an attempt to balance the books, or have contracted a company that adopts an over-zealous approach to enforcement. Neither strategy is acceptable.

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