NURSES working at Queen Alexandra Hospital on Christmas Day will have to fund their own travel after a scheme which helped pay for taxis was axed.
The trust which runs the Cosham hospital has in previous years helped pay for taxis to take some staff to work on days over the festive period when public transport is not running regularly.
Last year 599 taxi trips were paid for, including return journeys, across all the Christmas and New Year bank holidays. This cost the trust £4,260.
But now nurses and other staff working on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and any bank holidays during the period must cover the cost themselves.
A former nurse at QA said: ‘It’s a lot of money that staff will have to pay out. You do get extra pay for coming in but there’s no point if it’s all going on getting to and from work.
‘Staff like to come in to talk to patients, but with this budget cut, you won’t have many people putting themselves forward to work.
‘There will be a lot of upset staff over this.’
Under the scheme, staff would pay the first £5 of their travel costs and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust would pick up the rest of the bill for clerical and nursing staff and those working for Carillion, which has the maintenance contract at the hospital.
James Smith, area organiser for Unison South East, said: ‘This is clearly going to affect our lowest-paid staff in the NHS trust.
‘At Christmas people are always struggling to make ends meet.
‘Even though staff will be getting extra money to come into work, you have to bear in mind that taxi fares will probably be increased too.
‘Some of our lowest grade pay levels see clinical staff on £13,000. Once you take out taxes and national insurance, you’re not left with much.
‘We can see though why the trust needs to make these cuts.
‘It has had its budget cut from the government, and so local trusts are forced to run on a smaller budget.’
A trust spokesman said no replacement scheme will be provided.
A statement added: ‘The trust must regularly review all its income and expenditure and efficiency requirements.
‘Last year it was agreed that the trust could no longer offer this service, which is in line with other hospital trusts.
‘Staff who work on bank holidays receive pay enhancements for those days and are responsible for ensuring they arrive at work at the appropriate time.’