‘Clamp for carers’: Govt urged to U-turn over car parking charges for NHS staff


Ministers have come under pressure over suggestions NHS workers may soon have to pay to park at their own hospitals again.

A Tory peer and doctors’ union are among those calling for the exemption brought into force at the start of the coronavirus outbreak to continue.

Healthcare staff were told at the end of March the government would cover their parking fees for “going above and beyond every day” as they tackled COVID-19.

But health minister Edward Argar has now said he is looking at how long the support will “need” to go on.

“The provision of free parking for NHS staff by NHS Trusts has not ended and nothing has changed since the announcement on 25 March,” he wrote in response to a question in parliament.

“However, free parking for staff has only been made possible by support from local authorities and independent providers and this support cannot continue indefinitely.”

Edward Argar says that comparisons between the UK and Germany over coronavirus must be made with caution
Edward Argar said support for free parking for NHS staff ‘cannot continue indefinitely’

Mr Argar said the government wants to make good on its promise of free hospital parking for the disabled, frequent outpatient attendees, and parents of sick children who are staying overnight and night shift workers.

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He continued: “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.”

But he is facing calls to keep the existing support for NHS workers in place.

Baroness Nicky Morgan, a former Tory cabinet minister, told Sky News’ Kay Burley@Breakfast: “I’m sure that that is something that will have to be looked at again.

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“It does seem very strange given how hard our NHS and care workers have worked over the last few months.”

She added that as a backbencher, “that’s a decision that I’m not involved with”.

Alex Flynn, chief of staff of the British Medical Association, also tweeted: “From clap for carers, to clamp for carers the government needs to think again. Keep it free like Wales and most of Scotland.”

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has called for clarity and insisted NHS workers must not be “saddled with extortionate parking charges”.

She said: “Removing parking charges for staff at the outset of COVID-19 was the right move. Our healthcare workers deserved to have certainty that they could get to work without extra charges or hassle.

“Now the government must provide clarity and ensure our workers are not saddled with extortionate parking charges. We also need to see more efforts to promote green transport options for our healthcare workers.”

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