Coronavirus: NHS staff to get free parking during pandemic following pressure from campaigners

Matt Mathers
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NHS and social care staff will be given free car parking during the coronavirus pandemic, the government has announced, following pressure from campaigners.

It came after more than 400,000 people signed a petition on Wednesday calling on the government to scrap charges during the “nation’s hour of need”.

Petition organiser Anthony Gallagher welcomed the move but said fees and fines for NHS workers should be axed permanently.

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

Officials have vowed to provide NHS Trusts – or hospitals – with cash so they can also offer free car parking spaces to workers at hospital car parks.

Meanwhile, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said he made an agreement with local authorities in England that will enable them to provide free car parking on council-owned on-street spaces and car parks.

Local councils will ensure NHS staff, care workers and volunteers can provide suitable evidence to be displayed in their vehicles in order to avoid charges, Mr Jenrick added.

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

Mr Gallagher, a GP said: “I hope after this nightmare has passed, that the government will still notice how NHS workers go above and beyond every day.”

Mr Gallagher also added that government needed to go further and permanently scrap all fines and charges for NHS staff.

Last year, private firms pocketed £272 million from patients, families and NHS staff parking at hospital sites – up £46 million from the previous year.

In total, NHS staff were forced to pay £86 million to park their cars while helping the sick, according to NHS digital figures.

Parking charges at three Scottish hospitals will be scrapped for the next three months, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed on Tuesday.

Ms Freeman told MSPs that charges at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will be waived from Monday.

Charging for parking at other NHS car parks in Scotland was scrapped in 2008.

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