NHS workers at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), King’s Lynn will hold a demonstration on Tuesday (29 May), as the trust’s board meets over swingeing hikes to car parking charges that threaten to wipe out the proposed NHS pay rise.
Members of Unite, the country’s largest union, and other health unions, will stage the protest at the Inspire Centre at 10.00 on Tuesday as the board of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust meets to discuss the increases due to be implemented on Friday 1 June.
Many of the 3,000 staff at the hospital face a doubling of the charges by April 2020, which is compounded by the knowledge that public transport in rural Norfolk is not an option, especially for those working at nights, weekends and on bank holidays.
The protest follows a petition signed by over 1,400 employees calling for the trust to urgently reconsider the increases.
Unite said that the money that the trust collects from staff for car parking far outweighs the cash spent on car parking facilities.
Unite lead officer for health in East Anglia Mark Robinson said: “Unite has discovered that the trust already receives over £1.1 million a year in car parking revenue, of which a significant proportion comes from employees.
“However, the last accounts demonstrated that only £260,000 was spent on the car park during 2016/17.
“Staff are being used as a milch cow because of the serious current underfunding of the NHS by the government.
“The proposed increases have infuriated doctors and nurses at the QEH, and would effectively wipe out any benefit from the three per cent pay offer for NHS staff presently being voted on by health union members.
“These swingeing hikes would see QEH staff paying more than at the overwhelming majority of other trusts in East Anglia, a region notorious for poor public transport links.
“Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff will be outside the board meeting on Tuesday to show their strength of feeling. While they understand the trust’s financial position, they do not believe it should be the hard working staff, who have barely seen their pay rise over the last seven years, who pick up the tab.
“If the trust does not remove these proposals then Unite and other health unions will consider balloting its members for some form of industrial action.”
The new charges include, for example, staff on pay band 5-7 which includes nurses, speech and language therapists, and pharmacists will now pay £22 a month, up from £15.96. This will rise to £27.50 in April 2019 and £33 in April 2020.
Unite, which represents 100,000 health workers, said the King’s Lynn situation was being replicated across England by cash-strapped trusts and that it was wrong NHS staff should be asked to pay for going to work.
Mark Robinson added: “We would like a situation where dedicated NHS staff, who don’t earn a fortune, don’t have to pay to park their cars to go to work and look after the sick, the vulnerable and the injured 365 days a year.”
Notes to editors:
The trust’s website says: ‘Our catchment area covers the towns of King’s Lynn, Wisbech, Hunstanton, Downham Market and Swaffham, with the remainder of the population in villages and hamlets across an area of more than 750 square miles. The population of this area is approximately 331,000 people’.
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.