Nurses and hospital staff working between the Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital have raised serious concerns over parking. One nurse of 30 years revealed she is now “stressed” and ready to leave her job because she is unable to park at work and has been told to get to work from the north of the county by other means.
Parking fees were waived across the country at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic but Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the end of the benefit from Friday, April 1. Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH), the trust running Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital, said it would not however be reinforcing the charge until “early summer”.
Staff however have complained about the overall parking situation at the two hospitals, including unreliable public transport offers, despite this. The issue stems around workers not being able to use the limited staff car park without obtaining a permit, because the patient and visitor car parks must be kept for its designated use only, and those who do not have a permit have been told to get to work by other means.
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One such option is the Medilink bus service. However NUH is one of the largest employers in the city with 15,000 staff, and workers have now complained over the service being too busy or late.
It has been claimed some staff, having worked for shifts lasting more than 12 hours, have been forced to wait in the pouring rain or walk on their own in the dark to get home. A nurse who lives in Sutton-in-Ashfield and asked to remain anonymous told Nottinghamshire Live: “Before Covid I used the visitor car park and paid £8 per day but now you cannot park in that car park.
“It is a huge problem. If you are working 12 hours, which it never usually is, then you really do not want to be getting home at 10/11pm, because I live in Sutton.
“You really do not want to spend 45 minutes on a bus which is sometimes so busy now and you cannot get on it. I know staff who applied for a staff permit in 2018, which is not free, but I find it ridiculous they are still waiting for the permit.
“I really love the NHS because the support is unbelievable. It is absolutely amazing to work for the trust but now they do this. I do not understand.
“I have a shift which is 7.30am until 7.30pm and I do not know how to get to work because it is an extra one hour and 30 minutes [to get to work] and I’ll have to get up at 3.30am. I then won’t get to bed until midnight.
“How is that safe? I am so stressed. I’m getting four hours sleep. Would you want your mum looked after by a nurse on a few hours sleep? I love my job but I may have to leave.”
NUH has responded to the concerns to say the Medilink bus service was expanded from the week beginning June 6, including extra buses between Wilkinson Street and QMC between 6.30am and 07.05am, new early morning journeys introduced between City Hospital and QMC from 4:50am, new early morning journeys introduced between Queens Drive Park and Ride, QMC and City Hospital from 5:00am and new evening journeys with final buses from both QMC and City Hospital departing at 9pm.
A spokesman from Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust said: “With the increased number of patients using our services, and in line with the Government ending free parking for NHS staff, we have recently reinstated our pre-Covid on-site parking restrictions. We have expanded our offer to make it easier for staff to travel to and from work, including more Medilink services that started this week, and we continue to work with our partners in the Council and CT4N to monitor and improve its reliability.”
The Trust added if NUH staff currently hold a parking permit, even if this is expired, staff will be able to park in one of the on-site car parks, subject to availability and says it has issued as many permits as possible to effectively use the spaces.
If staff do not hold a permit the trust says they will need find an alternative way to get onto site via a full range of travel to work options available at Travel to Work, and if staff have extenuating circumstances that mean they need a permit they will need to contact their director with the reasons and if approved this will be sent to a panel for review.
And if staff work nights they will be able to park in any of the on-site car staff parks (City and QMC) from 4pm, (the barriers will be re-implemented for entry at 7:15am) even if they do not have a parking permit.