There has been widespread outrage after it emerged that the charges had been reinstated earlier than expected
Calls to scrap parking charges for NHS workers at a Cheshire hospital continue to be made amid warnings that it could ‘force staff to quit’. It emerged recently that Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had reinstated the charges at Leighton Hospital at the beginning of May.
Workers had been allowed to park for free since the start of the Covid pandemic but Unison chiefs said they were brought back in on May 1. The trust has drawn up a tariff system that varies according to NHS pay bands with the lowest paid being charged from £15 to £20 a month.
The issue has caused outrage among residents in Crewe and the wider Cheshire area. Cllr Connor Naismith, who represents Crewe West on Cheshire East Council, said he supported staff’s ‘legitimate call’ to scrap the charges.
The Labour councillor said: “We are in the midst of a cost of living crisis and we have just come out of a global pandemic in which our NHS staff were rightly praised as heroes who sacrificed immensely to keep us safe.
“It cannot be right that staff working at Leighton Hospital are now being asked to pay to park at their place of work after all they have been through. What we are talking about here is asking underpaid NHS staff to subsidise the service and plug the gap left by years of neglect by this Tory government.
“I support the staff’s legitimate call to scrap these charges and would urge the Trust to find a way to resolve the issue.”
CheshireLive readers also reacted with outrage to the reinstatement. One person commenting on the article said: “It’s despicable that people are forced to pay for parking at hospitals, both for staff and patients.
“Personally I think all parking charges should be scrapped across the board. If there aren’t enough spaces to park, build more or move to somewhere there are.”
Another commented: “It is a disgrace that NHS workers have to pay to park where they work. Take the money from the pockets of those in charge of the hospitals. They earn far more than the nurses, health workers, cleaners and other staff that help the hospital run.”
Unison claimed the reinstatement of the charges came earlier than expected. The union said other trusts across Cheshire and Merseyside are delaying the re-introduction until July and working with staff to reduce the impact.
They fear it could lead to staff refusing to pay the tariff and choosing to park on nearby streets. Unison warns this could cause traffic chaos and could also affect residents at a nearby housing development.
Unison North West regional organiser, David McKnight, said: “These frontline workers have risked their lives throughout the pandemic. They’re now being unjustly penalised for being unable to take their work home or do their job at other locations.
“The parking charges are a stealth tax that these workers can’t afford. Some were already relying on food banks before the cost of living hitting an all-time high.
“Imposing these charges on low-paid staff is unfair and could lead to them quitting at a time when the NHS is already struggling to fill vacancies.”
Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust refused to comment when approached by Cheshire Live on Tuesday (May 19). It has been contacted again to respond to the continuing outrage.