Plans are in motion to re-introduce staff parking charges at Dorset County Hospital.

Staff at the Dorchester hospital have not had to pay for parking since Covid when the government introduced a funded scheme for free parking for NHS staff.

However, this came to an end in April 2022 which meant that DCH ‘no longer received central funding for the income lost from not charging staff for parking on the hospital site'.

DCH continued to offer free parking for staff to help with the cost of living but it has now decided to reintroduce charges - although it's not known when this will happen.

A group of dialysis patients who spend three days a week receiving treatment at the hospital have branded the move to re-introduce staff parking charges as ‘abominable.’

Reg Foy, 84 from Wool and Steve Clarke, 59 from Weymouth met during their treatment.

Reg said: “We think it’s abominable that these nurses that give their heart and soul every day should be expected to pay to go to work.

“If this is going to happen, again, we feel that whatever we can do to get this stopped – we will do it.

"Two years ago, when we were on the Prince of Wales Ward, we were astonished that the nurses were so relieved that the parking charges had been lifted around covid time.

“The care and attention that we have received – they treat us like kings.”

Steve added: “They are saving people’s lives day in day out and they have to pay to do so. It’s just not right -how can somebody who’s saving lives day in, day out have to pay to park their car to do so.”

A spokesperson for DCH said: “Almost all NHS organisations incorporate income from parking charges into their financial plans, recognising the need to make the most of our resources and investments.

“We extended the period of free parking for our staff in recognition of the rising cost of living, but with the loss of the government subsidy and the ongoing challenging financial situation for all NHS trusts, we do need to reinstate staff car parking charges. This will also help us better manage car park usage and availability.

“We recognise what an important issue parking is for our staff and patients alike, and we have been working on improving the parking experience for everyone travelling to the DCH site.

“We are currently exploring options for what we charge staff and how we do that. We will work with our staff and their representatives in coming to a position on charging and we will give our staff plenty of notice before reintroducing any charges.”

This news has been been deemed 'disappointing' by union leaders.

Susan Masters, Senior Officer, Somerset and Dorset, Royal College of Nursing South West said: “We are aware that Dorset County Hospital are considering the re-instatement of charges for parking for staff and we have raised our concerns with them and asked that this is brought to the partnership meetings to discuss with trade unions representatives, which they have agreed to do.

“Whilst we appreciate the need for NHS organisations to work cost efficiently, time and time again it is the hard-working staff who pay the price, subsidising patient care, paying to work in the most difficult and challenging workplaces. Our members will be extremely disappointed by this move.”

UNISON regional secretary Kerry Baigent said: “The NHS pay rise for 2024 is now overdue but instead of trying to help staff cope with the cost of living, the trust is trying to increase the cost of working.

”UNISON will be keeping an eye on the Trust’s next move and will be consulting staff on next steps.”