The government is facing criticism after it emerged that already-struggling NHS staff are being crippled by annual parking charges of up to £1,300, just to leave their vehicles at work through the day.
Private companies and health trusts are forcing hard-up healthcare staff to pay exorbitant rates in order to park at or near hospitals.
The extortionate tariffs were brought to light by the GMB union, which used freedom of information requests to harvest parking information from 247 NHS trusts.
National officer Kevin Brandstatter told the Mirror: "Hard-working NHS staff are already being hit hard by the pay pinch, which means many are forced to food banks.
"The last thing they need is a further kick in the teeth having to fork out hundreds of pounds to park at work."
General secretary Tim Roache added: "It is an outrage. Hospital workers who care for the sick deserve a medal, not being charged for the pleasure. Unfair charges add insult to injury."
The most expensive parking was at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Fountadtion Trust, where hard-up staff were made to pay £1,300 annually for parking at work.
Health staff, unions and MPs branded the high rates as outrageous, and say that it is unfair for workers who have dedicated their lives to helping others to be forced to pay for it.
The Royal College of Nursing 's Gerry O'Dwyer said: "Hospitals run on the goodwill of staff but hefty parking charges show the feeling doesn't go both ways. For some nurses, especially those who work nights, public transport isn't an option.
"They work around the clock and should not be over-charged for doing their jobs. Nursing staff are £3,000 worse off than in 2010 and can do without these costs.
"The Government isn't giving the NHS the funding it needs but hospitals should not try to make money off their staff."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to axe hospital parking charges if his party get into power. While and Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth branded them 'a burden, which disproportionately affects the most vulnerable people'.
He added: "Even Jeremy Hunt has described this outrageous practice as a 'stealth tax', and yet Tory underfunding of our NHS has resulted in hospitals and private companies charging record fees to patients and staff."
Nurses spoke to the Mirror of their fury. One told the paper: "Some staff could be on 24-hour call. This means come in and park or find somewhere nearby. It's very stressful and expensive."
Another added: "It's not just the staff, think of the patients. If you wife is in labour or you need cancer treatment you have to pay a lot, causing extra stress."
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