Free parking for NHS hospital staff in England introduced as a result of the pandemic will end on Friday. The policy was originally announced two years ago, in March 2020. Parking fees were waived in March 2020, but ending the free parking for NHS Hospital Staff, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the pandemic had moved to a new stage.
Defending the removal of the benefit, the government said it was ‘delivering on our manifesto commitment to provide free hospital car parking to thousands more NHS patients and visitors.’
However, unions have today criticised the move as punishing struggling staff. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said scrapping free parking in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis is a ‘lousy way to repay’ NHS hospital staff who had ‘put their lives on the line to get us through this pandemic’. She continued, ‘The government should be giving health staff a proper pay rise – not adding to their bills. And it should be funding our NHS properly so that hospitals don’t have to rely on car parks for income.’
Rachel Harrison, the National Officer for the GMB union, told the PA Media news agency, ‘Charging the NHS staff who’ve risked their lives during the pandemic to park at work is a sick joke. After the years of Tory cuts NHS trusts are struggling, we know. But scrabbling the money back off hard-up workers is not the answer. The government must now legislate for free hospital staff parking once and for all.’
A Freedom of Information request from the GMB Union previously revealed that on average NHS Hospital Staff were paying up to £1,300 a year to park at work.