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Nursing Standard. 36, 7, 12-12. doi: 10.7748/ns.36.7.12.s8
Published: 30 June 2021
For more on this issue, go to rcni.com/free-parking-scrapped
Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only
Quite simply – yes. Nurses are driving to see patients in their homes and, in doing so, preventing admissions to our overburdened hospitals. Offering them free parking is surely more cost-effective than treating people in hospital? So much NHS money is wasted on fines issued when nurses are treating patients at home and, for instance, park too close to a dropped curb because they are rushing. We don’t expect bus drivers to pay road tax for their buses, so why do nurses pay to park when treating patients?
Community nurses are being unfairly disadvantaged by the decision to end free parking in local council car parks and on-street bays. There are already thousands of registered nurse vacancies in the community; this policy may deter people from joining community nursing. The parking fee may be small, but with the amount of home visits a community nurse does in a day, it adds up. The proposed 1% pay rise will not come close to covering a year’s parking fees.
Parking should be free or subsidised for healthcare staff while they are on shift. However, car parks need to be maintained and the staff who operate them need to be paid, so a small monthly charge in return for a parking permit would be fair. This could be subsidised by employers. Some NHS staff already pay for a monthly permit for hospital car parks, with the charge varying depending on salary. A small monthly charge for a permit that can be used across other car parks would benefit all nurses wherever they work.
Free parking permits have been so useful for community nurses. Permanent staff can use them and so can bank and agency nurses. We didn’t have to jump through hoops to get them, as we often do for local authority parking permits. It’s been difficult enough to attract agency staff to community nursing during the pandemic – these permits were a benefit we could offer. Now they are being taken away without consultation. The government says it has done everything to support the NHS. For reasons such as this, I completely disagree.