Hospital staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) in Brighton are grappling with a drastic increase in parking fees, turning daily commuting into a financial burden. The recently announced parking fee increase, set to take effect from July 17, 2023, has many NHS workers worried about their ability to afford the cost of parking near work.
An RSCH radiographer and Worthing resident, whose struggle has been shared on social media, is particularly impacted. The daily parking tariff increase from £8 to £22 has imposed a significant strain on her finances, making it nearly impossible for her to afford parking during her work hours, from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday.
The social media post stated, “She works hard for the NHS and this is so unfair as she won’t be able to afford this hike in parking fees.”
The parking fee hike has not only affected the full day rate but also the shorter-term parking fees. The 1-hour parking tariff has jumped from £1.40 to £5.60, a four-fold increase. The 2-hour parking fee has more than tripled from £2.80 to £9.30, and the 4-hour fee has surged from £5.50 to £15.70. The 11-hour tariff, relied upon by most hospital staff, has seen a threefold increase from £7.60 to £22.70.
The surging parking prices have provoked an outcry among RSCH staff, who view this increase as a financial burden on those serving on the healthcare frontline. Many are now scrambling to find alternative parking arrangements or considering public transportation, despite the associated inconveniences.
These challenges come amid an ongoing, broader debate about the treatment and working conditions of NHS staff. One issue that has received considerable media attention is the fact that since 2008/09, junior doctors have seen a reduction of more than 25% in their salaries.
This decline in pay has led to recruitment and retention challenges, further pressuring the NHS and its ability to deliver care to expected standards. The government’s refusal to negotiate with the British Medical Association (BMA) on pay restoration has prompted an escalation in industrial action.
At the time of writing, RSCH management has yet to publicly comment on the price increase or offer any solutions to alleviate the financial strain on their staff.