NHS bosses in South Tyneside urged to scrap staff parking charges permanently or risk staff exodus

NHS chiefs in South Tyneside have been warned they face an exodus of staff if they start charging for parking again.

Free car parking for NHS hospital workers was brought in by former health secretary Matt Hancock in 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in a bid to ease mounting pressure on workers.

At the time, the move was thought necessary to ensure doctors, nurses and other health professionals were not reliant on struggling public transport networks or put at greater risk of spreading or contracting the virus.

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But following the government’s decision to reverse the move in the wake of falling case rates, union bosses have urged hospital leaders in the North East to hold off bringing the fees back, in light of the growing cost of living crisis.

South Tyneside Hospital.
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“Bringing back costly parking charges won't help the NHS hang on to staff in in the current job market,” said Clare Williams, northern regional secretary at UNISON, a union.

"This move will add hundreds of pounds to the cost pressures already facing health staff and reduce morale even further.

“Those already on the brink of leaving the NHS may well see this as the final straw and head for the exit, just as the service needs experienced staff the most."

The union has written to hospital trusts across the North East, calling for staff parking charges to be scrapped “permanently”.

It also claims stretched finances have seen more than a third of staff seek financial support from family or friends in the last year, while more than two fifths have taken on extra work “to make ends meet”.

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South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, which runs South Tyneside District Hospital, in South Shields, has said it will continue offering free staff parking for now “despite the end of the Government subsidy”.

Kath Griffin, the trust’s executive director of human resources and organisational development, added: “We are very aware the rising cost of living is having an impact on our staff and are looking at a number of ways to further support them, alongside some of the current measures we have in place, such as subsidised food in our restaurants.

"We will continue to do all we can to support our staff during these difficult times."