The government has confirmed its funding for free parking for NHS staff will end on Thursday, HSJ has learned.
Free parking was introduced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the government providing funding to cover this.
The government announced last night that it would end on 1 April. This is despite it previously committing that “NHS organisations should continue to give their people [staff] free car parking at their place of work for the duration of the pandemic”, and the prime minister saying “hospital car parks are free for NHS staff for this pandemic”.
It is thought that some trusts have already wound down free parking, while some may choose to continue the offer and cover the costs themselves.
Covid cases and admissions are currently high and rising around England, although intensive care admissions and deaths are much lower than during 2020 and early 2021.
A memo to local NHS leaders on Tuesday, from Michael Bellas, the NHS’s national estates policy lead, seen by HSJ, said: “I wanted to send you a quick note as a heads up that the Department of Health and Social Care will be announcing… that the free parking arrangements for NHS staff introduced during the pandemic will end on 31 March as expected…
“This will be announced as part of a wider package of measures introduced under the Living with Covid banner.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We rightly provided temporary funding so NHS staff could access free hospital car parking during the height of this unprecedented pandemic. As we learn to live with Covid, this will end on 31 March but free parking for staff on night shifts will continue.”
Sara Gorton, head of health for the Unison union, 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.”
Story updated to include DHSC and Unison statements.