12 April 2001
Ken Livingstone MP
Dear Mr Livingstone
Deals on Wheels campaign
I am writing to ask you to consider the possibility of ‘pilot’ schemes for health visitors and community nurses to have ‘free’ car parking badges when visiting clients on NHS business in London, as part of your overall transport strategy for the capital.
The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA) and the Community Psychiatric Nurses Association (CPNA) have been campaigning for a year to gain a better deal for health visitors and community nurses when using their cars.
When you were standing for election as Mayor last spring, you wrote to my CPHVA colleague Gail Cartmail giving your "full support" to our Deals on Wheels campaign
From correspondence with Keith Hill MP, the Minister for London, I understand that the DETR does not have direct responsibility for car parking in the capital, as that rests with the Mayor and the London borough councils.
I know that health visitors can, at present, apply for the Health Emergency Badge from the Transport Committee for London, and this would enable them to park in an emergency. However, the vast majority of visits made by our members are not in the emergency category, but are, nevertheless, very important to clients who rely on the expertise that a health visitor or a community mental health nurse can provide.
While some of our members do have these emergency badges, they don’t use them for routine visits as they feel this would be an abuse of the system.
What is very unfair is the GPs presently enjoy this privilege – and many of their visits are not emergencies - while health visitors and community nurses, who are at the forefront of the government’s public health programme, do not.
Many of our members have to spend valuable time trying to find a parking space – time that could be much better spent with clients. In their quest to give the best service possible, they often receive parking tickets, which many NHS trusts refuse to reimburse.
I know that the traffic situation in London is almost at breaking point and that strict measures have to be in force to ease the ever-growing flow of traffic. That’s why I am only asking you, at this stage, to consider ‘pilot’ schemes.
These could be monitored over a period of time and their results analysed. Such a scheme has the merit of not costing very much money to implement. The drawback at present, as we see it, is not financial, but administrative.
A series of ‘pilot’ schemes across the metropolis would go a long way to assuage the great sense of grievance that our members feel on this issue. Parking – or the lack of it - is by far the biggest complaint that our Labour Relations team receives from members.
What the CPHVA is calling for is equality and fairness for a hardworking and dedicated section of the capital’s workforce. Ideally, in the long run, we would like community nurses to be given badges so they can park freely, as doctors do, throughout London.
I hope that you can look at this request with sympathy and I would welcome the opportunity to lead a small delegation of health visitors and community nurses to meet with you informally to give you an account of their daily battles to find a parking space.
I will also be writing to Nick Lester, Director, Transport & Environment, Association of London Government on this issue.
Should you need further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.