The government’s decision to end a free pandemic parking pass for NHS and care staff in England has been condemned by the Unite union, which has more than 100,000 members across the health sector.
Unite said the move, which comes into effect on June 21, could encourage health and care staff working in areas where the Indian variant is prevalent to use public transport, increasing potential vectors for the spread of the virus.
The union also said that low paid health workers should not have to go back to being used as a ‘cash machine by NHS trusts charging their staff extortionate fees to park at work’.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarret-Thorpe said: “This is an outrageous decision from the government and comes without consultation or warning.
“In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, NHS workers are still able to park for free. Hot on the heels of the insulting one per cent pay offer, this decision shows what the UK government really thinks of NHS staff,” he added.
“It is another slap in the face for exhausted NHS workers in England who are still dealing with pandemic and the tsunami of issues exacerbated by the crisis, including record waiting lists and continuing shortages of skilled and qualified staff.
“It cannot be right that health and care staff working in areas where the more transmissible Indian variant is prevalent will be encouraged to take public transport, increasing potential vectors for the disease’s spread, because of costly parking charges,” Jarrett-Thorpe continued.
“Nor is it right that NHS workers, who have given so much during the last year, should be forced to go back to being used as a cash machine by NHS trusts charging their staff extortionate fees to park at work.
“Unite will be writing to Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health to ask him to think again and to make free car parking for NHS workers permanent as it is in Scotland and Wales.
“After such public service, it is simply unconscionable that health workers in England, particularly those on low incomes, should return to paying hundreds of pounds a month in parking charges.”
By Ryan Fletcher