A HOSPITAL union says Winchester's main hospital will lose staff because of the clampdown on staff parking on site.

Some medical staff at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital have been told to use the park and ride on the edge of the city several miles from the hospital.

Managers want to encourage workers to use the park and ride near Compton to free up space for patients and their families and clinical staff who need their cars during the day.

But Sarah O'Donoghue, of the UNISON union, predicts the move will encourage staff to leave.

She also questioned its necessity as little is done to police the existing car parks at the RHCH to make sure they are only being used by people who have a right to be there. Members of the public are parking in area reserved for staff.

Ms O'Donoghue said: "This move has a direct impact of our members. I think we will lose staff. People get very wound up about parking."

She added the unions have not been consulted by management. "I'm very surprised about that. We want to be consulted."

Nurses have told the Chronicle that nurses and doctors doing 12 hour shifts are being told to use the park and ride.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Alex Whitfield told when the story was first reported: “We are working hard to try to address the problems we face regarding car parking capacity for staff at RHCH. We encourage all staff to make use of park and ride and we pay for them to have free access to this service. We also provide a minibus service for staff between the hospital and the park and ride car parks in the evenings, when public buses are not available.

“In order to ensure that spaces at the hospital are available for patients, and for clinical staff who make frequent, short visits to the hospital during the working day, including those who work in the community, we have made a change to the qualifying criteria for a parking permit, bringing the start of what we term our core hours forward by 30 minutes to 7am.

“With park and ride buses now operating from 6.25am, staff beginning work at or after 7am can use this service, helping to ease parking pressure on the site. We will continue to review the arrangements.”