When will free parking for NHS staff end? Why parking fees are being reintroduced after Covid pandemic waiver

Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the change in a written statement and thanked staff for working “tirelessly”

Free parking for NHS staff working in hospitals in England will come to an end this week, the government has confirmed.

Car parking fees were waived in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, but Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the pandemic has now moved to a new stage.

Free car parking for NHS hospital staff in England will end on 1 April (Photo: Getty Images)Free car parking for NHS hospital staff in England will end on 1 April (Photo: Getty Images)
Free car parking for NHS hospital staff in England will end on 1 April (Photo: Getty Images)

When will free parking for NHS staff end?

Free car parking for NHS hospital staff in England will end on Friday 1 April.

However, Mr Javid said more than 93% of NHS trusts charging for parking have implemented free parking “for those in greatest need”, including NHS staff working overnight.

Why are parking fees being reintroduced?

The Department of Health and Social Care said that the introduction of free parking for NHS staff was “temporary” a temporary measure and introduced in July 2020 “for the duration of the pandemic”.

It said that the scheme had cost around £130 million over the past two years.

In an update on Covid, Mr Javid wrote: “Free parking in hospital car parks for NHS staff introduced during the pandemic will also come to an end on 31 March.

“However, over 93% of NHS trusts that charge for car parking have implemented free parking for those in greatest need, including NHS staff working overnight.”

He added: “On behalf of the government, I would like to record my thanks to everyone who has worked tirelessly to keep people safe over the last two years and whose efforts have enabled us to move to the next stage of the Covid-19 response.”

‘A lousy way to repay staff service’

Union workers have criticised the move to scrap free parking, saying it is a “lousy way” to repay NHS staff for their work during the pandemic, particularly amid the current cost of living crisis.

Rachel Harrison, national officer for the GMB union, said: “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.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady added: “Our amazing NHS key workers put their lives on the line to get us through this pandemic.

“Scrapping free car parking in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis is a lousy way to repay that service.

“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.”

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said that the move could be “the final straw” for many NHS workers and called on the government to give staff a pay rise to prevent more staff leaving the health service.

She said: “This is no way for the NHS to hang on to staff in the current job market.

“Parking charges will add hundreds of pounds to the massive cost pressures already facing health staff and reduce their morale even further.

“Those already on the brink of leaving the NHS may well see this as the final straw and head for the exit, just as the service needs experienced staff the most.

“More than a third of staff have had to ask family or friends for financial support in the last year, according to Unison research. More than two fifths say they’re taking on extra work to make ends meet.

“This is the reality facing health workers. An inflation-busting pay rise is vital to stop more staff leaving NHS jobs this year.”