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Hospital parking protest called off after last minute agreement

PUBLISHED: 13:09 29 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:28 29 May 2018

A protest at the QEH was called off at the last minute after hospital board members and union representatives reached an agreement. Picture: Archant

A protest at the QEH was called off at the last minute after hospital board members and union representatives reached an agreement. Picture: Archant

Archant

A protest to denounce parking fare hikes for hospital staff was called off at the last minute after hospital bosses and union representatives reached an agreement.

The demonstration was due to take place at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn this morning at 10am to coincide with the hospital trust’s board meeting.

Hospital workers hoped the protest would halt controversial parking charges which unions have said could double for some staff over the next few years.

More than 20 doctors, nurses and hospital staff waited outside the Inspire Centre, where the board meeting took place, awaiting the outcome of the talks between the unions - including Unite and Unison - and the trust.

Peter Passingham, Unison’s regional organiser, told the protesters that the demonstration was called off “in good faith” after hospital board members offered alternate proposals.

But he said the proposals only affected charges for years two and three and the first set of increases to car parking charges for patients, visitors and staff will go ahead from June 1.

He said the hospital could not climb down from the first year of parking increases due to “contractual reasons.”

Many of the hospital staff stood outside the centre voiced their anger at this decision, with one stating: “That is their problem, not ours.”

Mr Passingham told union members that a consultative ballot will now take place in order to determine what action to take next, adding: “All options are on the table.”

Car parking charges were originally set to rise by 30pc, with a two-hour stay going up from £2 to £2.60 and each extra hour increasing from £1 to £1.30.

Following consultations earlier in the year, the cost of a daily ticket for the lowest paid staff was reduced from £1 to 75p for Band 1 and 90p for Bands 2 and 3.

In a statement by the trust, it said: “Positive talks were held on Friday, May 25, with Joint Staffside Chair to explore ongoing full consultation on all future annual rises from June 2019.

“It was agreed to recommend to their members a suspension of the current protest whilst a consultative ballot of all union members can be held.”

One protester, Dr Margaret Daly, consultant medical oncologist at the QEH, said the future remained uncertain, adding: “We will need to see the proposals on paper before we suspend any further protest.”


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