Queen Elizabeth Hospital staff and representatives pictured ahead of a planned protest into increased parking charges at the hospital. Picture: Paul Tibbs

From today patients and visitors at King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital will pay more to park, but union leaders are hoping to secure a better deal for staff.

A planned protest by union members on Tuesday was called off at the last minute after talks were held between the hospital’s trust board and the Joint Staffside Consultative Committee (JSCC). As a result some changes were made to the way charges for staff would be affected.

In April the hospital trust announced parking charges would increase by almost 30 per cent, from today (Friday).

The cost for visitors to park for up to two hours will increase from £2 to £2.60. The additional cost of £1 per hour after will rise to £1.30 per hour to £6.50 for up to five hours.

An eight-hour stay will cost £10.40 instead of £8, a 24-hour stay will cost £15.60 instead of £12 and a weekly ticket will rise from £22 to £28. The 24-hour charge for Blue Badge holders is to remain at £2.

However, Tuesday’s meeting resulted in changes to planned increases for staff.

In a joint statement the trust and JSCC said proposed increases would now be implemented over three years rather than one. For the hospital’s lowest paid staff the cost of a daily ticket would initially reduce from £1 a day to 75p a day for band one staff and to 90p a day for bands two and three.

The statement said: “Positive talks were held last Friday with the joint staffside chairman 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 while a consultative ballot of all union members can be held.”

Peter Passingham, regional organiser  for the union Unison said:

“We welcome the positive talks the trade unions have had with the trust and are pleased to see an overall reduction in staff parking charges from the initial proposals, alongside a commitment to full consultation with us about any future increases from 2019 onwards.

“However, the staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital work very hard to deliver vital services to the community, yet NHS wages have fallen around 14 per cent behind inflation over the last seven years which has left some staff struggling.

“For this reason staff are understandably angry about the rises coming into effect in June and we will therefore be running a full consultative ballot with union members to see how they want to proceed.”