Unison reps meet MP over Antrim Hospital parking charges
A DELEGATION of Unison representatives have met with a local MP over proposed plans to charge Antrim Hospital staff to park at the hospital.
Members of the Unison Northern Health Branch met with North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jnr last week to discusse the impact proposals would have on health workers.
As the Times reported last October the Department of Health has issued a car parking policy to all Trusts for consideration.
The policy asks Trusts to consider “where patients and visitors are required to pay, consideration should be given to charging staff”.
Visitors have been paying to park at Antrim hospital for more than a year.
A spokesperson for the Northern Trust said at the time: “Given the current financial pressures on Health and Social Care and the costs of providing and maintaining car parks, it is reasonable and fair that these proposals should be given consideration.”
But Unison say they are “strongly opposed to this proposal”.
“In summary all grades of staff will be affected and staff car parking charges may role out to other trust facilities. There are many issues that Unison have concerns with,” a Unison spokesperson said.
She added: “Our members pay has remained static; they have been hit with extra pension contributions; the cost of living has rocketed and families are already struggling. Our members simply cannot afford the charges.
“Many of the staff at Antrim Area Hospital are low paid, woman and part time workers – all who rely on their jobs, most are supplementing household incomes.
“Antrim Area Hospital is a rural hospital serviced by workers who live in rural areas. Staff do not have sufficient public transport links which would enable convenient, affordable alternatives to travelling by car. Several members of one family may be hit if they all work different shift patterns.
“The Northern Health Trust maintain that money generated from staff car parking charges would go straight back into front line services - similar to the claim they make in regard to patient parking charges.
“Unison challenges this claim and we are sceptical that this is the case. Unison believes the likelihood is that only a small proportion of the generated income goes back into patient care.
“Unison feel the proposal to charge workers to come to work is fundamentally wrong. We stand with our members opposing it in its entirety.
“The proposal is abhorrent and just wrong.”
At the meeting with Mr Paisley, the Unison reps provided him with a copy of the proposal and discussed concerns with staff car parking charges at length.
“Mr Paisley has pledged to assist his constituents and Antrim Area Hospital staff and has offered his full support,” the Unison spokesperson said.
She added: “He made a commitment to write to the Health Minister, the Chief Executive of the Northern Trust, Mr Sean Donnaghy, and the Chairman of the Trust to outline his opposition and support for Unison’s stance in relation to this proposal.
“Unison will continue with our petition opposing the charges - which hundreds of staff have already signed. Unison will continue to lobby and campaign to put this proposal where it should be – in a shredder.”
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Weather for Antrim
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
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