NHS staff will not have to pay hospital car parking charges during the coronavirus crisis, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said. The announcement came after mounting public pressure, with over 400,000 people signing a Change.org petition for the fees to be scrapped.
Anthony Gallagher, an NHS GP, set up the petition as a way of thanking NHS staff for their ‘‘bravery to step up in our nation’s hour of need.”
Responding to the news, Anthony said: “I am in no doubt that the Government did not begin this week intending to cover all parking charges for NHS staff. This is a massive success, thanks to all the hundreds of thousands of people who signed my change.org petition.
“I hope after this nightmare has passed, that the Government will still notice how NHS workers go above and beyond every day. It would not be reasonable, at that time, to give them all a pay-cut and reinstate parking charges. I am optimistic that the Government will do what is right and scrap these parking charges permanently.”
The Government said it would give immediate financial backing for all NHS trusts to provide free car parking to NHS staff for the duration of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Local Government Secretary has also agreed for local councils to offer free car parking to all NHS workers and social care staff during the coronavirus outbreak.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our NHS is facing an unprecedented challenge, and I will do everything I can to ensure our dedicated staff have whatever they need during this unprecedented time.
“So we will provide free car parking for our NHS staff who are going above and beyond every day in hospitals across England.
“My enormous gratitude goes out to the many NHS Trusts and other organisations already providing free car parking and I urge other Trusts to do the same with our backing.
“We will do what is needed to protect the NHS, support our health and care staff, and save lives as we tackle COVID-19.”
Hospital car parks fall under the remit of health trusts. The East Kent Hospitals Trust has waived charges at all sites including QEQM.
All staff will be able to park on the sites for free and staff with active permits will not be charged in April and May.
As the number of visitors attending the sites drops, the Trust will also look at how patient/visitor spaces can be used for staff to create further capacity during the daytime period in the weeks ahead.