UNISON wins U-turn over hospital parking charges

West Midlands trust criticised for reimposing parking charges that were meant to be free during the pandemic

Thousands of NHS hospital staff in the West Midlands will receive refunds for car parking charges while at work, after a successful campaign by UNISON.

The U-turn by University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) NHS Foundation Trust follows a challenge by the union on behalf of its 6,000 members working at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and other sites run by the trust.

The union says that some could receive as much as £800, backdated to last summer when UHB scrapped a commitment to offer free parking during the pandemic.

In March 2020, the Department for Health and Social Care informed all health trusts that they would receive immediate financial backing to provide free parking. But in August, UHB reimposed charges for its staff.

Challenging the move, UNISON said the parking fees were an unfair levy on hardworking staff, who were paying upwards of £100 a month.

UNISON West Midlands regional organiser Chanel Willis said: “These charges were unfair, inappropriate and essentially a tax on staff who have given their all during the pandemic.

“UHB shouldn’t have been charging employees for coming to work so everyone else could stay safe. UNISON is glad the trust has seen sense and promised to refund the money.

“Hard-pressed staff should have been due a pay rise [this month] and will appreciate the extra cash in their pockets.”

UNISON says that UHB has also agreed in principle to suspend further deductions until June, which is when the Westminster government is expected to lift all COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.