Government urged to provide NHS staff with free parking after Covid-19 pandemic

The government is being urged to ensure that NHS staff are provided with free hospital parking permanently but it says a decision will be made “once the pandemic abates”.

NHS England has told all trusts they should continue to offer free hospital parking to staff “for the duration of the pandemic”, after the government agreed to cover the cost in March 2020.

Several NHS trusts in Yorkshire have told Yorkshire Post they are waiting for government guidance before they make a decision on the reintroduction of those charges for staff and no date has been set.

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Trevor Johnston, from Unison Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "No NHS trust anywhere in England should be charging staff. Sadly, some are.

NHS staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow take part in the 'Clap for Carers' in May 2020

"Free parking for staff should remain in place indefinitely. Public transport isn't an option for hospital staff in rural locations, and many shifts start before, or end after, the first bus or last train.

"Tackling the backlog of cancelled operations and appointments means the pressure will be on NHS staff long after Covid. Allowing health employees to park at work, and not making them pay through the nose for it, will help enormously."

Staff have also been provided with passes that allow them to park for free at council-run car parks while they are at work, but a number of councils across the country have announced they will not accept those passes after June 21.

Those passes were issued after the government and local authorities reached an agreement in 2020, but the government says those passes can be withdrawn after June 21.

Earlier this year, the government said that by April 2021 all NHS trusts should permanently offer free parking to staff working night shifts, disable people who hold valid blue badges, outpatients who attend a hospital appointment at least three times a month and parents of a child who is staying in hospital overnight.

But it has not asked NHS trusts to provide free parking to staff permanently.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “NHS staff have performed an incredible role at every stage of this pandemic and we are clear - they should not be charged for parking when they are at work.

“We are providing the funding for NHS staff to ensure they benefit from free hospital parking throughout the pandemic response.”

She added: “Any such assessment of the reintroduction of car parking charges will be made once the pandemic abates.”