A UNION is warning thousands of healthcare staff are set to be hit in the pocket amid plans to reintroduced hospital parking charges.

UNISON, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, has said staff from Mid and South Essex hospitals will effectively be taking a pay cut if plans to reintroduce parking charges go ahead.

The union claim Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust (MSEFT), which runs Broomfield, Basildon and Southend hospitals, has told UNISON officials it wants to reintroduce staff parking charges from August 1. 

Charges were scrapped during the pandemic and a number of trusts have promised to keep parking free for workers until at least 2023, says the union. 

A parking permit would likely cost staff around 0.5 per cent of their salary, says UNISON, a cost they can ill afford with fuel, food, and energy prices on the rise.

UNISON add it would cost the lowest paid health staff around £100 a year, £130 for a newly qualified nurse and around £230 for more senior medical staff.

Staff already face a serious erosion in their living standards, say UNISON, with the government suggesting a pay rise of three per cent this year when official inflation is already above nine per cent. 

Early starts and late finishes mean many drivers are unable to use public transport, the union warns. 

More than 2,000 people have already signed a UNISON petition calling on the trust to scrap its plans to reintroduce parking charges. 

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Sam Older said: “With the cost of petrol, food and energy all going through the roof and a government committed to keeping NHS wages down, the last thing health workers need is a new charge on coming to work. 

“MSEFT is already struggling to recruit and retain staff. Taking more than £100 out of their pay is no way to improve things. 

“The trust should slam the brakes on these proposals. It’s not right to charge healthcare staff for coming to work.”  

Defending the controversial scheme, a trust spokesman said: “The government withdrew financial support for NHS staff parking on April 1.

“We have been covering this cost since then, but unfortunately that is not sustainable as it impacts the funding available for patient care.

“Therefore, we will have to re-introduce charges in the coming months. 

“We will be working closely with staff, and our union colleagues, to discuss how we can do this as fairly as possible.”