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The Government announced it would help NHS staff by providing free parking in hospitals for those working through the pandemic earlier this year. At the time of the first lockdown, 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.”
This summer one health minister said free parking couldn’t continue “indefinitely”, but the Government refused to clarify when the scheme would end.
It is understood no provisions have been made by the Government to protect NHS staff from rises in parking fees.
How much more will doctors and nurses have to pay for parking?
Annual parking permits for NHS staff will go up 200 percent for workers at the London King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, according to a leaked email.
One senior nurse, who has been in the NHS for 30 years, revealed her yearly parking fees will go from £240 to £720 as a result of the hikes.
She said: “We’re being treated badly enough as nurses with no real pay rise. Morale is low anyway.
“We’re all absolutely shattered, and you don’t feel your hospital is supporting you in any shape or form.”
New permits will cost doctors and nurses at the Trust up to £1,440 per year, with the changes originally expected to come into effect at the start of next month.
Workers at the Trust were told the “new permits and pricing will be effective from December 1”.
The car parks are managed by the Car Parking Partnership, which runs parking facilities across NHS hospitals in Britain.
Parent company ParkingEye takes up to 85 percent of the earnings from the Trusts’ parking sites as profits.
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As well as the price increase, the Trust will also remove any current discounts in place, including half-price passes for part-time workers and a discount for senior staff.
Sources said the part-time change would negatively affect “huge” numbers of staff, single mothers in particular.
Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “What a disgusting kick in the teeth to hard working, brave NHS staff in the middle of the second coronavirus wave.
“The fat cats running these car parks should be ashamed. Matt Hancock needs to step in and sort this out.”
The Trust changed its mind following public outrage after the revelation, deciding to u-turn on the December price hike introduction.
A spokesperson from the Trust said: “To help us maintain our car parks and provide security staff to patrol these areas, the costs of staff parking permits will increase.
“Revenue from staff parking permits help ensure we can continue to maintain our car parks and equipment and provide security.
“However, in line with NHS policy during the COVID-19 pandemic, this will not be implemented until a later date.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care told Express.co.uk: “During this ongoing global pandemic we are providing the funding for NHS staff to get free hospital parking, meaning staff should not be charged to park.
“From January next year it will become mandatory for hospitals to offer free parking to disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of children staying overnight and staff working night shifts, with thousands of NHS patients, staff and visitors eligible under these rules.”
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