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The government is considering reintroducing car parking charges for NHS staff as the coronavirus pandemic eases, the health minister has suggested.
Since the end of March, healthcare staff at NHS hospitals were told the government would cover parking fees at the hospitals they worked at as a thank you for “going above and beyond every day” in the fight against the coronavirus.
However, health minister Edward Argar has now said he is looking at how long the support would need to continue.
Responding on Friday to a written question from Labour’s 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.”
In response to another question from Labour’s Zarah Sultana, Argar said the government was “considering how long free parking for National Health Service staff will need to continue”.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association Council chair said reintroducing parking charges for NHS staff would be a “rebuff to the immense efforts of staff across the country and the sacrifices they have made to keep others safe”.
He said: “The BMA has always believed that it is unacceptable for staff who serve in our health service to be required to pay significant amounts of money to park their car in hospital grounds. This is even more salient as the nation recognises the immeasurable contribution of healthcare workers in fighting this pandemic.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement: “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.
“When 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.”
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