UK government ministers have declared that free hospital parking for NHS staff will end as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic begins to ease.
Free hospital parking is set to only be available to NHS staff in “certain circumstances”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced back on 25th March that all NHS staff, who were “going above and beyond every day” at hospitals in England, would be eligible for free hospital parking during the pandemic and that the government would cover these costs, but now the Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that this will only continue for “key patient groups and NHS staff in certain circumstances”.
A timeline for when this is likely to take effect has not been announced at present.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has condemned this potential action, stating that reintroducing charges whilst the virus is still being fought would be “a rebuff to the immense efforts of staff across the country and the sacrifices they have made to keep others safe”.
Alex Flynn, Chief of Staff at the BMA, added: “From clap for carers, to clamp for carers, the government needs to think again.”
“Keep [it] free like Wales and most of Scotland.”
When questioned on the topic last week, Health Minister Edward Argar said that the support to make free parking available “cannot continue indefinitely”.
He added that the government was looking at how long it would “need” to go on for during the pandemic.
In response to another question from Labour’s Zarah Sultana on Friday, Mr Argar also said that the government “recognises that [free hospital parking for NHS staff] has only been made possible by external support from local authorities and independent sector providers”.
He added: “The government’s focus remains on ensuring the commitment of free parking for the groups identified in their announcement of 27 December 2019 is implemented once the pandemic abates.”
“Implementation of this commitment has been on hold whilst the NHS has been managing the COVID-19 pandemic and devoting its hospital parking capacity to staff and other facilities necessary for managing the pandemic.”