NHS staff will once more have to pay to park in the car parks of the hospitals where they work, now that the Covid-19 crisis has begun to ease.
At the start of lockdown doctors, nurses, carers and support staff in England were all able to park at their workplace free of charge, as a result of extra funding from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
However, it seems likely that ministers will reintroduce parking fees, as they say the emergency funding “cannot continue indefinitely”.
Why were parking fees cut in the first place?
During the start of the pandemic in March, DHSC announced it would provide funding for all NHS trusts in order to abolish parking charges for hospital staff, without this eating into the hospital’s budgets.
This was to encourage workers to drive themselves to work instead of using public transport, which increases the risk of the virus spreading between commuters.
Health minister Edward Argar said, “Free parking for staff has only been made possible by support from local authorities and independent providers and this support cannot continue indefinitely.”
How much do hospitals charge staff to park?
Some hospital car parks in England charge both staff and patients up to £3.50 per hour.
Currently, in Wales and the majority of Scotland, there are no parking fees in place in hospital car parks.
Data from August 2019, reveals the most expensive daily parking rates for A&E at hospitals in England are as follows:
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London — £77Whittington Health NHS Trust, London — £72Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London — £52.80Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London – £40King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London — £29St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London — £25Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, Sussex — £20Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Bedfordshire — £20Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Hampshire — £18.20Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Sussex — £18Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, Surrey — £17East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, East Sussex — £16.60Leeds General Infirmary, West Yorkshire — £16.40St James’s University Hospital, West Yorkshire — £16.40The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk — £15.60
What date will the charges be reintroduced?
The DHSC has not yet confirmed a date for the reintroduction of parking charges but a spokesperson said, “We want to make sure NHS staff can travel safely to work during the pandemic, which is why we requested that the NHS make parking free for staff, and that local authorities do the same with their car parks.
“As the pandemic begins to ease, the NHS will continue to provide free hospital car parking to key patient groups and NHS staff in certain circumstances. We will provide further updates on this in due course.”