Staff at West Suffolk Hospital hit out at increased parking charges

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds
West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds

Disgruntled hospital staff have started a petition to voice their opposition to planned increases in car parking charges.

Staff at West Suffolk Hospital have been given two weeks’ notice of a 65 per cent price hike – from £18 to £30 per month – to the cost of parking on-site.

Some have decided to park in streets within walking or cycling distance of the Hardwick Lane hospital, while others feel they have no choice but to accept the extra deduction from their pay and have started a ‘say no to car park charges’ petition.

A nursing assistant, who did not wish to be named, said: “I work as one of the lower [income] bands at the moment and I struggle on a month-to-month basis to get food sometimes so £12 a month is a crazy increase.”

As someone who lives out of town and works 12 hour shifts, he says he has no choice but to drive in. Furthermore, he says the times he works means he is not able to use the free shuttle service from the rugby club. He will be parking at a friend’s house in town and walking to work in future.

“It will increase my day by an hour in total which, after a 12 hour shift, isn’t ideal,” he said.

A member of clinical staff, who asked to remain anonymous, said she felt the management had not considered the effect this would have on some staff and there was currently ‘a lot of resentment’ towards them.

“I think they forget they have poor people working at the hospital,” she said.

Another member of nursing staff, who also asked not to be named, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting that we are saving lives but almost being punished for working here.

“I appreciate people with jobs in town pay and I’d be happy to pay £20 a month but to jump to £30 with only just over a week’s notice is sickening.”

As someone who lives alone, she already has to watch what she spends and said the increase could force her to cancel her gym membership.

“It’s nice to have something for yourself and to de-stress but now I might not be able to – I’m really not happy,” she said.

Jan Bloomfield, director of workforce and communications at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said the tariff increase reflected the recent investment the Trust had made to accommodate all staff who wanted to park on site.

She added: “We recognise the increase may be a concern for some staff, however our new rates are comparable with staff charges at other hospitals in the area and we are working to provide alternative options to parking on site.”