Staff will need parking permits at Conquest Hospital under new scheme

Conquest Hospital, Hastings
Conquest Hospital, Hastings

Staff at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings will have to apply for a permit to continue parking in the on-site car park.

A letter sent to staff members by the East Sussex Healthcare Trust said they had until November 1 to apply for a permit ‘to reduce the number of cars being parked on site’.

The parking permit scheme has been brought in to reduce the ‘considerable problems for people attempting to park’ at core times of the day, particularly between 8am and 9am and during visiting hours after 2pm, according to the healthcare trust.

Currently, there are no restrictions on who can park on site at the Conquest Hospital.

In the letter – seen by this newspaper – the East Sussex Healthcare Trust said: “The lack of parking is a major cause of stress for staff who cannot find a place to park, especially when running the risk of being late for work.
“The amount of cars travelling to and from our sites does not only have an impact on the car parking on site, it also contributes towards the growing problem of congestion and pollution in Eastbourne and Hastings.

“Currently there are no restrictions on who can park on site. The new parking scheme aims to provide better controls on permit allocation and provide much better data about staff commuting patterns.

“Imposing this more rigorous parking permit scheme is one part of the trust’s wider strategy to reduce the number of cars being parked on site.”

The trust’s new scheme was made mandatory for new starters with effect from May 1, 2018.

Existing staff members were advised to apply for a new permit from May 1, but it would not be made ‘mandatory’ for them until November 1, 2018.

The permits will then be renewed annually thereafter, with the new permit year starting on April 1, 2019.

The letter also stated that permits will not be automatically issued to staff members who live within 1.5 miles of their base location.

However, there were exceptions for staff members who were blue badge holders, suffering from a short term physical condition, starting shifts before 7am or after 7pm or regularly needed to use their car due to primary care responsibilities for children up to 16.

Staff members on permanent night shifts, those requiring access to regular off-site meetings, registered car users as active members of ‘liftshare teams’ or those living more than 1.5 miles from the hospital were also ‘exempt’.

The trust said the new parking permit scheme does not impact on the daily parking charges.

Chris Hodgson, associate director of estates and facilities, said: “Anyone who has needed to park at Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH at busy times of day will know what a struggle it can be. The lack of parking causes problems for patients attending appointments and members of staff trying to get to their shifts.

“To ease some of the pressure, we are asking members of staff who live within 1.5 miles of both hospitals to find alternative methods of getting to work. This will apply to all new staff from the 1st May 2018 and existing staff from the 1st November 2018. There are a number of exemptions to this, for example members of staff who work night shifts or unsocial hours, members of staff with blue badges, mobility issues or caring responsibilities and members of staff who car share or need to travel for work.

“We are working hard to support members of staff to find alternatives to driving to work through initiatives such as cycle and lift share schemes and other supporting projects. Not only will this ease parking on site, but it will also ease congestion and pollution on the roads near our hospitals.”

Each member of staff that wishes to park at the hospital must complete the Travel Choice and Parking Permit Application form available from the parking office at Conquest Hospital.