Hos­pi­tal staff face £70 fine for park­ing cars in pa­tient bays

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Kather­ine.bainbridge@men­media.co.uk @KBain­bridgeMEN

STAFF at four Greater Manch­ester hos­pi­tals face be­ing hit with a £70 fine if they leave their cars in pa­tient spots - but some say they of­ten no choice be­cause their car parks are full.

One for­mer nurse has slammed Pen­nine Acute NHS Trust af­ter rack­ing up around £1,200 in fines she is re­fus­ing to pay.

Trust staff work­ing at Royal Oldham, North Manch­ester Gen­eral, Fair­field Gen­eral and Rochdale In­fir­mary are charged to park at their place of work.

It un­der­stood they can buy vouch­ers to use each time they park - or monthly per­mits.

How much staff pay for the priv­i­lege to park at their re­spec­tive hos­pi­tals is not pub­licly-avail­able in­for­ma­tion.

A trust nurse, who left ear­lier this year, said medics and other work­ers are reg­u­larly un­able to find spa­ces in des­ig­nated staff car parks at the hos­pi­tals and are forced to park in ar­eas pa­tients.

“When they do, they’re slapped with a £70 fine, which is re­duced to £35 if paid within 14 days.

The trust’s car parks are run by Civil En­force­ment Lim­ited.

The nurse told our sis­ter pa­per the M.E.N. he has re­ceived dozens of let­ters from so­lic­i­tors threat­en­ing to take her to court.

“It’s a joke. I be­lieve that staff should not have to pay for park­ing any­way, and then get fined for go­ing to work,” she said.

“A lot of staff refuse to re­served for pay the fines in protest. If you don’t pay it you get a let­ter from Civil En­force­ment say­ing it has gone up to £110.

“It then goes to a debt col­lec­tion agency and it goes up to some­thing like £240.

“Af­ter that you start get­ting so­lic­i­tors’ let­ters say­ing you will be taken to court. I once had seven so­lic­i­tors’ let­ters in one day.”

Staff have the op­tion of pay­ing on a daily ba­sis, but the ticket ma­chines only take coins. That has also caused prob­lems.

The nurse added: “If I ar­rived for my shift at 7am and I didn’t have the right change on me I would leave a note on the dash­board say­ing ‘work­ing in A&E, will pay later’ but it would be com­pletely ig­nored.

“They are is­su­ing the tick­ets willy-nilly and the trust com­pletely wash their hands of it. I have had this hang­ing over my head for more than a year.”

Barry Water­house, travel and ac­cess man­ager at The Pen­nine Acute Hos­pi­tals NHS, Trust said: “The Trust con­trols nearly 5,000 park­ing spa­ces across our four hos­pi­tal sites. Des­ig­nated park­ing ar­eas are marked and signed to show which car park­ing spa­ces are for staff, visi­tors and pa­tients us­ing dif­fer­ent coloured sig­nage.

“Most re­cently, we have opened new staff park­ing ar­eas at Rochdale In­fir­mary ●●Staff at hos­pi­tals in­cludng Rochdale In­fir­mary say they of­ten have no choice but to park in pa­tient bays as their own car parks are full and a new park­ing area at North Manch­ester Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, which has sec­tions for pa­tient and vis­i­tor, plus staff use.

“We ac­tively en­cour­age and re­mind our staff to use the staff park­ing ar­eas only as this en­sures pa­tients and visi­tors can use the spa­ces clos­est to the hos­pi­tal depart­ment en­trances.

“In Au­gust 2015 we opened a new 562 space staff park­ing area at The Royal Oldham Hos­pi­tal at West­wood Park. This rep­re­sented a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment of £2.6m and clearly demon­strates our com­mit­ment to im­prove park­ing for the ben­e­fit of all users.

“We also en­cour­age staff to use other meth­ods of trans­port and of­fer free jour­ney plan­ning, dis­counted an­nual bus tick­ets, cy­cle park­ing and shower fa­cil­i­ties, and dis­counted park­ing per­mits for staff who reg­u­larly car share.”

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