Ipswich Hospital nurses voice concerns over hospital parking fines and job fears if they complain

Ipswich Hospital car park.

Ipswich Hospital car park.

Ipswich Hospital nurses who are being forced to park on grass verges because of a lack of parking spaces are facing consistent threats of fines, but feel unable to talk to hospital bosses for fear of their jobs, according to a new letter.

An anonymous letter penned by a group of hospital nurses and sent to the Ipswich Star detailed the daily battle for car parking spaces that has left nurses having to park on grass verges and incorrect spaces, resulting in fines.

While the staff are given passes, on many occasions the nurses are not able to use them because there are no spaces available, the letter said.

The letter’s author added: “I leave my home half an hour earlier because I know there is going to be a struggle trying to park.

“I have received three fines so far for not parking in a correct parking space. On all occasions I had been driving around the grounds for so long that I was late for my shift.”

The nurses added that they often have to spend lunch breaks trying to move their cars, adding additional stress on already busy 12 hour shifts.

The letter said: “I just want to do my job but with the parking problem my twelve hour shifts become fourteen or more due to leaving home earlier and using up my break times to find available parking.

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“We wish that management would do something but staff cannot complain as they are frightened at losing their jobs.”

A petition launched on www.change.org over the issue in November last year has attracted more than 11,000 signatures to date.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) expressed concerns of the impact it would have on nurses considering leaving, and was vital to keeping staff motivated.

Karen Webb, RCN eastern director added: “Car parking for nurses is a concern because at a time when the NHS struggles to retain nurses it can little afford to put barriers in the way of them being able to work.

“Managers need to come together with nursing staff and RCN representatives to discuss a way forward which promotes safe working for the nurses employed by Ipswich Hospital.”

A spokeswoman from the hospital said that it had recently introduced a raft of measures to tackle the problem, but admitted it was an “emotive” issue.

“We are really sorry that any member of staff is having problems parking,” the spokeswoman said. “In order to try and make sure there is less pressure we have introduced a range of measures to make sure we make it less stressful.

“That said it’s a very busy site of 8,000 people a day and we absolutely appreciate there are times you may well struggle.”

To combat the issue the hospital allows staff working night shifts to park in patient car parks, and is promoting use of car parks that may be further away than the nearest ones on site.

The hospital said it is also talking to bus companies to do everything it can.

Parking wardens will issue fines if cars do not have a permit, if no ticket has been bought, parking is dangerous, or unauthorised, such as blocking an exit or on a kerb.

The hospital said it did not issue fines lightly, but safety had to come first to allow access in and out of the car parks.

“We are not trying to penalise staff, we are trying to make sure the hospital is safe,” the spokeswoman said. “We appreciate car parking is getting more and more emotive, but we urge the staff to talk to us. We will listen to all their concerns carefully and our staff are very important to us.”