MORE than 300 people have signed a petition opposing any moves to introduce parking charges at community hospitals.
Unions are circulating a petition over concerns that Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust could introduce parking charges at some of its sites.
Charges were first suggested at hospitals like Headington’s Warneford Hospital last December following concerns about a rise in demand for spaces.
The trust – which has no parking restrictions at its sites – told the Oxford Mail it was consulting staff, but would not give more details about what could be implemented.
A review into parking at the county’s nine community hospitals was sparked after more than 1,000 staff emails raised concerns about a lack of parking spaces.
A total of 629 people work at Abingdon Hospital but it has 114 spaces and 328 staff at Witney Community Hospital share 69 spaces.
Unison spokesman Ian McKendrick said the trust had proposed charges for patients and permits for staff, with fees.
He said there seemed to be widespread opposition to plans to charge staff, patients and visitors to park on hospital sites.
The petition is backed by Unite, the Royal College of Nursing and The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
He said: “Staff resent being charged to come to work and charges for patients and visitors.”
He added it “flies in the face” of recent moves by the Department of Health to help patients hit by parking charges at general hospitals such as Oxford’s John Radcliffe.
Over the weekend, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced new guidelines for trusts which do charge for parking, urging free parking for some like visitors for “gravely ill” patients and the use of “pay on exit” systems, where visitors pay before leaving the car park.
The trust said it follows the guidlines put forward by Mr Hunt, which include free or cheap parking for relatives of chronically ill patients.
Trust spokesman Alistair Duncan said: “We have put the needs of patients and essential staff at the core of our plans.”
The trust has 43 car parks including at community hospitals in Abingdon, Bicester, Chipping Norton, Didcot, Henley, Wallingford, Wantage, Witney.
It also runs the Oxford City Community Hospital at the John Radcliffe where parking fees apply as the site is run by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.
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