Hospital parking – a charge too far

Keep it free

UNISON believes that hospital parking should be free for NHS staff across the UK. However, until the pandemic struck, sites in England, Northern Ireland and three sites in Scotland were still charging staff to park at work.

Coronavirus changed all that. During the pandemic hospital parking was free for NHS staff and local authorities and private providers also offered free parking to health and social care staff.

Charges in England were reinstated in April 2022; charges in Northern Ireland were reinstated in September 2021.

In England, the government has introduced free parking for staff working night shifts (where the shift starts after 7.30 pm and ends before 8 am).

There are some Trusts in England though who have delayed the reintroduction of charges until 2023. UNISON want to see parking charges abolished for all staff working in the NHS.

What you can do

UNISON members:

  • Get in touch with your branch and find out what is happening where you work

No going back to normal

The pandemic proved that it is possible for trusts to let staff park for free and we want to see this continue.

We know that some trusts may not be able to simply end their contracts with the companies who manage their parking operation, but we still expect them to make some changes in the short term until the contracts are up. They can sign up to our NHS Parking Charter which calls on trusts to:

    • commit to scrap parking charges for staff within two years and agree an implementation plan with UNISON
    • post-coronavirus, if they can’t keep parking free then only charge staff for the hours their vehicles are parked at the hospital
    • guarantee a parking place for all staff with a valid parking permit
    • provide emergency bays for on-call staff so they can park for free
    • ensure that the cost of parking is affordable and charges are consistent across all sites, by charging on a sliding scale so staff earning less pay less
    • immediately give all staff with a disability free on-site parking (in line with the government’s manifesto)
    • recognise the needs of staff whose choice about using their car is limited by the nature of their job or the availability of public transport and give those staff free parking
    • in the short term use the profits from staff parking charges to improve the safety and security of car parks
    • develop sustainable transport schemes like staff buses, pool cars for community staff, park and ride schemes and incentives for bicycle use and car-sharing schemes.

    What can branches do?

    If your trust has reinstated charges use UNISON’s parking charter to start a conversation with your employer about how unfair charging is. The more employers we can get to change their policy the better it will be for staff working for those trusts who charge. Help us make your trust a free to park employer.

    Ask staff what difference an end to parking charges would mean for them. You can run a survey or discuss it at meetings. Knowing what staff think will strengthen your arguments with your employer.

    Ask staff to let you know if they get fined because their night shift handover runs over and they are late back to their car.

    Speak to members and other staff about whether they would support sustainable transport schemes like staff buses, pool cars for community staff, park and ride schemes and incentives for bicycle use and car-sharing schemes.

    And why not see if staff have ideas of their own to help reduce the impact of parking charges. Then you can present those ideas to your employer.

    Keep us informed about the progress of your campaign by emailing