STAFF at Winchester's hospital will soon have to pay for parking, the NHS trust which runs it has said.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Royal Hampshire County Hospital, has released their future transport plan which is hoped to change how more than 6,000 staff across its three sites travel to work; both in the short and long term.

Part of the vision is to promote cycling to work, IT investment to support working at home, more staff car-sharing schemes and minibus schemes for staff, but organisation is also calling for the the expansion of park and ride sites.

The trust says that the parking charges are a “last resort” to facilitate these schemes.

Julie Maskery, chief operating officer at Hampshire Hospitals, said: “The decision to introduce charges for staff parking on site is one which we have taken as a last resort and only following extensive engagement on the issue.

“It’s no secret that our sites are difficult to park at, something which often causes significant disruption both to the trust, our patients and the local community.

“The difficulty is that as the number of patients accessing our services grows – as it has by 10 per cent this year alone – we have to increase staff to meet it.

“Given the location of and geography around our sites, there are no easy solutions and we simply cannot just build more spaces to meet demand.

“Instead we have to think differently.”

But the trust has insisted that not all staff will pay the same rate and charges will vary depending on salary.

Ms Maskery said: “The money generated will be strictly ring-fenced to support parking services and will be progressively managed so that staff on higher incomes pay proportionately more than those on lower ones. Equally, we are fully committed to maintain a free way for staff who travel to work by car to park through an expansion of our park and ride schemes."

The trust say that part of its revised transport plans comes in its quest to combat climate change, and its commitment to be more sustainable in the future.

“In the long term we would like to see the vast majority of our staff and patients travel to our sites by a means other than a personal vehicle,” Ms Maskery added.

“Not only would this improve access to our facilities overall but it would significantly reduce our carbon footprint; something that we – like everyone else – simply have to do for the future of the planet.

“In the short term, this isn’t possible, but we can start to lay the groundwork for it. Our immediate priority is to ease congestion on site and improve the experience for our staff getting to work.

“We very much hope that these changes both set us on the road to a greener future and significantly improve the experience staff have when travelling to and from our sites.”