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 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 11:50 GMT
Anger at hospital parking charges
Newcastle General Hospital
Visitors are also facing charges of up to 1 an hour
Union leaders have vowed to take legal action against management at a Newcastle hospital if they clamp cars belonging to staff.

Managers at Newcastle General Hospital have threatened to use the measure if staff do not comply with increases in parking charges.

The rise means workers have to pay 1 a day rather than 30p - representing an annual potential pay cut of 200 for staff.

Friends and relatives visiting patients are also facing charges of up to 1 an hour.

The thing has not been thought through and consequently lives could be at risk as a result of this stupid move by Newcastle Hospitals Trust

Yunus Bakhsh, Unison

Yunus Bakhsh, from the public service union Unison, said feelings among staff are running high.

He claimed consultants and senior staff, who use a barrier pass, have had their parking costs frozen

Mr Bakhsh said: "We are talking about the potential of community nurses having their cars clamped while in the process of looking after patients.

"The thing has not been thought through and consequently lives could be at risk as a result of this stupid move by Newcastle Hospitals Trust.

"People have drawn up petitions, mounting protests and, by and large, people are not paying.

"In other words, these increases are not going to lead to an increase in revenue, they are actually going to lead to a decrease in revenue because people are just not going to pay.

"Also, the people who they are trying to force to do the clamping have said they are not prepared to do it."

Latest regulations

In a statement to the BBC, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust said the move brought the hospital level with others in the city.

"The Trust is gradually and consistently applying car parking charges across all the hospitals in the region," the statement said.

"The rise merely brings the unit in line with the RVI and Freeman hospitals.

"We take measures to ensure staff comply with the latest regulations, including clamping if necessary."

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Heather Miller
"Hospital staff say the won't pay new parking charges"

Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

11 Nov 02 | England
18 Jan 02 | Scotland
23 Aug 00 | N Ireland
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