Petition for free staff parking at Ipswich Hospital gains more than 800 supporters
Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for free car parking for NHS staff after a nurse at Ipswich Hospital was reportedly fined.
The e-petition addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron, Ipswich MP and Health Minister Ben Gummer, Waveney MP Peter Aldous and West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock has gained more than 800 supporters.
It was launched on Sunday by a former porter at the hospital, Justin Hollis, on behalf of a nurse who he claimed was fined after she forgot to place her ticket in her car and then was unable to leave the ward because of “no staff cover”.
Mr Hollis, 31, said: “Why should nurses be charged for looking after cancer patients? Why should they have to pay to go to work?
“All staff do a fantastic job gaining the qualification and saving lives. I just think you should have a car park where you don’t have to worry or stress and you shouldn’t have to pay. It makes me angry and sad.
“I would like to help the people at the hospital and if this gets resolved help other workers too.”
The number of car parking spaces is also an issue, Mr Hollis added, with staff on certain shifts needing to arrive at work half an hour early to get a space.
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He claimed staff often resorted to parking on grass verges or just over the parking bays, which attendants also fine for.
Ipswich staff get a reduced rate to park at the hospital of £1.70 a day or £28 a month if it’s deducted out of their wages.
Mr Hollis said when he worked at the hospital around five years ago it cost 80p an hour to park.
One supporter who signed the petition on change.org wrote: “Yes enough parking spaces are an issue. But the least the NHS could do is provide us with parking and YES FREE parking while we are providing unconditional patient care of an excellent standards from birth till their last breath whilst saving lives without a second thought.”
Another added: “It’s a disgrace that employees that are already underpaid are forced to pay these parking charges.”
MP for South Suffolk and North Ipswich Dan Poulter, who is a practicing doctor and former health minister, said it would be wrong to fine a member of staff who has paid for a parking permit, but could not find a parking space on a busy day.
He added: “I work and have worked at a number of hospitals and all but one of those have charged staff for car parking.
“It’s important that staff, particularly those on a lower wage, are supported with cheaper car parking through monthly deals.”
A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said any money the hospital received was used to provide care to patients.
The car park has to be patrolled for security, the spokeswoman added, so the hospital has to make a charge for parking and all staff members across the organisation are charged the same rate.
She added: “We do understand and appreciate people’s concerns, but this is a decision which has been made by staff in consultation and we always ask staff what they feel.
“There is a very clear appeals process and we do it for anyone who feels we have got it wrong.”
If a petition collects 10,000 signatures it will receive a Government response.
Mr Gummer said all NHS organisations were expected to follow clear guidelines around hospital car park charges, which included the recommendation that concessions should be offered to NHS staff who worked shifts at times when public transport could not be used.
To view the petition, visit: www.change.org