Government must U-turn on parking charge 'stealth tax', say hospital doctors

HCSA has urged a government U-turn on car parking charges for staff which represent a “hidden work tax” totalling up to £89 million a year.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has ordered Trusts in England to begin charging staff from today for car parking between 8am and 7.30pm.

However, HCSA - the hospital doctors’ union warned that the decision was ill-judged at a time when morale is low and living costs are already rising.

The U-turn call came as NHS Staff Survey results yesterday revealed more than 1 in 6 in the hospital workforce now intend to leave their employer as soon as they can find another job – up from 1 in 7 last year.

Hospital staff in England were billed a total of £89.078m by their employers in the year before car parking charges were dropped during the Covid pandemic. Just 24 acute Trusts accounted for £34.7m of that figure.

HCSA President Dr Claudia Paoloni warned: “Car parking charges for hospital staff are a hidden tax on work which will add yet more pressure at a time when national insurance and price rises and changes to NHS pensions contributions are going to hit many staff hard.

“It’s not as if this is even being dressed up as an environmental measure - it is about generating income for hospitals. Yet it is a complete false economy. The government needs to consider the impact on already rock-bottom morale of yet another financial blow. Staffing shortages are one of the biggest issues our NHS now faces. It is ludicrous to pile on yet another incentive for staff to leave.

“The cost to the government in England of making free parking permanent, as Wales and Scotland have done, would be minimal compared to national NHS budgets, but for individuals it means a significant difference ranging up to more than £1,000 a year. We urge the government to see sense and perform a U-turn on these charges.”