A ROW has broken out over car parking spaces for hospital staff after it was revealed NHS bosses do not have permission to use a GP surgery’s car park.

Colchester Hospital opened its new urgent treatment centre on Tuesday.

It replaces the existing walk-in centre at the neighbouring North Colchester Healthcare Centre.

To accommodate the increase in patients visiting the site, a staff car park of more than 100 spaces has been converted into parking for patients.

Employee parking at the hospital is already under strain with only about 1,000 designated places for 3,000 staff.

Permits are issued through a priority system.

Hospital bosses had moved to reassure staff, claiming 140 new staff parking spaces would be provided “within reach” of the Turner Road site.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester Hospital, said 70 spaces would be made available at the soon-to-be rebranded Turner Road surgery and a further 70 at Mill Road surgery.

But it has been revealed the hospital does not have planning permission to use 70 spaces for staff parking at the Mill Road site.

A Colchester Council spokesman said: “Planning permission was granted in June last year solely for ad hoc parking at Mill Road for 70 vehicles used by contractors working at Colchester General Hospital.

“Any alternative arrangements on site, for example for staff parking, would require a variation of condition application to be submitted, which would be considered on its own merits in due course.”

Paul Fenton, director of estates and facilities at the hospital trust, claimed a deal had been reached with the council to use land at the Mill Road site for parking on a “temporary” basis.

He said: “We have been in contact with Colchester Council about some recent changes to car parking at Colchester Hospital.

“These changes include one of the staff car parks becoming a visitor car park in order to make more spaces available for our patients and their visitors.

“We have been working closely with the council and have permission to use our land off Mill Road on a temporary basis for staff car parking.”

However, Colchester Council has denied any such deal has been reached.

An offer allowing hospital staff to use Colchester Park and Ride free of charge is understood to still be available.

In a letter to the Gazette published last week, one nurse said she would quit her job over the loss of parking spaces.

She said buses cannot meet the weekend and early morning demands of staff, while she said suggestions of walking or driving further to park were “laughable”.

She said: “We work 12-hour shifts, with rarely a chance to sit down.

“We forego breaks and stay late to make sure our workload is completed. We are abused every day, but we continue because we care.

“This health trust’s latest disrespect has finished me off, and alongside hundreds of nurses across the country every day, I’m packing it in.

“That’s one parking space they won’t need.”