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Petition launched to scrap staff parking charges at Princess Alexandra Hospital

Health / Tue 4th Feb 2020 pm29 02:21pm

By Local Democracy Reporter
Piers Meyler

UNSUSPECTING hospital staff members say they are being hammered with £100 fines by a smart parking system – even though they have already paid for permits from their wages.

Already having to pay for the privilege of parking at work, dozens of staff members are being sent penalty notices of up to £100, along with a picture of their car entering the staff car park at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

Staff can pay a monthly salary sacrifice for parking permits for onsite parking at the hospital, which since the beginning of December has been using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to police the site.

However, the ANPR system run by Car Parking Partnership has created continual problems, with staff receiving fines despite paying daily or monthly for their parking.

Despite them wiping these case by case there is still no resolution and staff continue to receive £100 fines for each shift they work.

Chris Burt, who works as an A and E ward assistant, said one member of staff has received 32 fines for just a few weeks.

He added that it has always been felt by staff, patients and visitors that staff should not have to pay for parking.

He said the scrapping of paying to park to come to work would improve moral, staff retention and put an end to the constant fines and disputes over parking.

“It would seem that I am getting one a day but there are other members of staff who are getting them randomly,” said Mr Burt.

“The system appears to be broken.”

He said that he has contacted managers but has not had a reply.

“If they don’t send me a warning then the next thing is that I could get a county court judgement against me and I’m in the red,” he added.

“That’s what a lot of staff are scared of. It’s potentially these letters that can turn into genuine fines and bailiffs and debt collectors.

“A lot of staff are getting these letters and still a month and a half down the line it is still not being resolved.”

Thousands of NHS patients and visitors in England will be able to access free hospital car parking under a new approach set out by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in December.

Currently, NHS trusts are responsible for making their own car parking arrangements, including setting any charges. Any profits from car parking charges must be reinvested into frontline care.

From April, all 206 hospital trusts in England will be expected to provide free car parking to groups that may be frequent hospital visitors, or those disproportionately impacted by daily or hourly charges for parking, including blue badge holders and frequent outpatients who have to attend regular appointments to manage long-term conditions.

Free parking will also be offered at specific times of day to certain groups, including parents of sick children staying in hospital overnight and staff working night shifts.

The government has said it wants to push ANPR systems to improve parking.

But Mr Burt said he wants the petition to act as extra pressure on hospital managers.

He said: “Hopefully the end result will be they wipe the system for staff and look at wiping it for the public which to be fair the government has already said is a mandate of theirs.

“No one should come into hospital A and E and expect to have to pay for parking while their relatives are potentially in the room next door.”

Michael Meredith, director of strategy and estates at Princess Alexandra, said: “We have been made aware of the petition regarding parking fees for our people and we welcome this feedback.

“Parking charges for our people are at a subsidised rate. The money generated from parking fees is used to support the running and maintenance costs of our car parks.

“With the new camera-controlled car parking system, our people have been asked to register their number plates with security in order to ensure that they do not receive fines.

“We provided a two-week period when we first changed over to the new system where warnings were issued instead of fines, to give our people the opportunity to register their details if they had forgotten.

“Any colleague who has still not registered their details and has received a fine can appeal this using the information on the penalty notice issued.

“We encourage any colleague who has not registered their vehicle with security to do so by visiting the security office at The Princess Alexandra Hospital at the earliest opportunity.

“Colleagues who pay daily have been advised of the website to visit to register their vehicle. To discuss car parking, our people can contact the car parking team on [email protected] and [email protected]

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