The UK Government has announced parking charges for NHS staff will be lifted while they fight the coronavirus outbreak. The move came after a huge public outcry in response to nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers working on the front line having to pay hefty parking charges to park at work. A petition was launched to lobby the Government, which received over 400,000 signatures.
NHS staff face charges of between £50 and £200 a month to park at work and last year NHS England took £86million in staff parking charges.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced a temporary stop to the charges for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak.
He announced the change in policy on Wednesday night and said the Government would give immediate financial backing to all NHS trusts to provide free car parking to NHS staff.
The National Car Parking Group confirmed it will also provide NHS staff with free parking at all 150 of its car parks in England.
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Mr 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.”
It follows a petition launched by Anthony Gallagher, an NHS GP, to scrap the parking fees.
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The Change.org petition was backed by over 400,000 people in just four days.
Mr Gallagher said he set up the appeal as a way of thanking NHS staff for their “bravery to step up in our nation’s hour of need”.
Responding to the news, he 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.
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“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 Scottish and Northern Ireland executive had already introduced similar measures.
Sir Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, suggested NHS staff could expect additional measures of support.
He said: “Free parking will make a big difference for hundreds of thousands of frontline staff.
“But this is just the start, and we will be setting out further support offers over the coming days and weeks to ensure the NHS looks after those who look after all of us.”
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