NHS healthcare workers need clarity over the future of free hospital parking after a health minister announced funding for it “cannot continue indefinitely”, a Liberal Democrat MP has said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on 25 March that the government would cover the parking costs of NHS staff who were “going above and beyond every day” during the coronavirus outbreak in England.
But health minister Edward Argar has since said the government is looking at how long this support will “need” to go on.
In response to a written question from Labour MP Rachael Maskell, he said: “The provision of free parking for National Health Service staff by NHS Trusts has not ended and nothing has changed since the announcement on 25 March.
“However, free parking for staff has only been made possible by support from local authorities and independent providers and this support 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 nightshift workers.
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.”
Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Layla Moran has called for clarity and said 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.”