Coronavirus: NHS staff to get free parking

Hospital car park charges signImage source, PA Media

NHS and social care staff will be given free car parking during the coronavirus outbreak, the government has said.

It comes after 400,000 people signed a petition urging the government to thank NHS workers by scrapping charges.

GP Anthony Gallagher, who began the petition, welcomed the move but said fees should be abolished permanently.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I will do everything I can to ensure our dedicated staff have whatever they need during this unprecedented time.”

The government has promised to provide NHS trusts with the money so they can offer free parking to workers at hospital car parks.

Elsewhere, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said he has agreed with local authorities in England that they will provide free car parking on council-owned on-street spaces and car parks.

The government says councils will ensure NHS staff, care workers and volunteers can provide suitable evidence to be displayed in their vehicles in order to avoid charges.

The National Car Parking Group earlier confirmed it would offer free parking to NHS staff at its 150 car parks in England.

Responding to the announcement, Dr Gallagher said: “I hope after this nightmare has passed, that the government will still notice how NHS workers go above and beyond every day.

He said he hoped the government would "do what is right" and scrap charges at work car parks for NHS staff permanently.

The move was also welcomed by the GMB trade union which has campaigned on the issue.

National secretary Rehana Azam said: “We need a permanent end to the scandal that leaves NHS and ambulance workers paying hundreds and thousands just to park at the hospitals that they work at.”

A freedom of information request made by the union found that staff were paying up to £1,300 a year to park at work.

In Scotland, parking charges at three Scottish hospitals have also been scrapped. Charging for parking at other NHS car parks in Scotland was scrapped in 2008.

Parking at all NHS hospitals in Wales has been free since 2018.

The Conservative government’s 2019 manifesto promised to make parking free for those in greatest need including “disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders and staff working night shifts.”