Coronavirus: More than 300,000 people sign petition to scrap car parking charges for NHS workers

Petition calls on the government to act during “our nation’s hour of need”

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 25 March 2020 10:35 GMT
(Getty Images)

More than 300,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to abolish fines and car parking charges for NHS employees using staff car parks during the coronavirus pandemic.

The petition - addressed to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, chancellor Rishi Sunak and Prime Minister Boris Johnson - calls on the government to act during “our nation’s hour of need”.

In a letter accompanying the petition, organiser Anthony Gallagher, an NHS worker, said: “Now, as with generations before ours, a small minority of our population finds itself with both the skill and the bravery to step up in our nation's hour of need.

“This is not the first time that so much is owed by so many to so few, nor will it be the last, but this is our time.”

He added: “It is the NHS and its workforce that now stands between us and the greatest mass tragedy we have faced in generations.”

Mr Gallagher said that there had already been “astonishing fines” levied at NHS staff for parking at work in the lead up to the current “staffing crisis”.

“Car park charges must be reasonable”, according to The Principles In NHS Car Park Charging introduced by the government in 2014.

Last year, private firms pocketed £272 million from patients, families and NHS staff parking at hospital sites - up £46 million from the previous year. In total, NHS staff were forced to pay £86 million to park their cars while helping the sick, according NHS digital figures.

“This is wholly wrong,” said Conservative MP Robert Halfon. "NHS hospital car parking charges are a tax on the sick, the elderly, the vulnerable and on our incredible NHS staff."

Former Labour MP and shadow health minister Julie Cooper said: “The whole situation is a disgrace.”

Parking charges at three Scottish hospitals will be scrapped for the next three months, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed on Tuesday.

Ms Freeman told MSPs that charges at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will be waived from Monday.

Charging for parking at other NHS car parks in Scotland was scrapped in 2008.

Some local authorities in England have already moved to relax car parking charges for key workers and NHS staff.

Hackney Council in London has introduced exemptions for key workers on the front line of the borough’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures will allow NHS workers, police, school staff and any organisations providing support to vulnerable individuals, such as care home workers, to park in any resident or shared use parking bay in the borough.

Announcing the move, Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste, Transport and the Public Realm, said: “We have put in place an exemption for key workers - the people who actually need to be out.”

“Parking restrictions are necessary to ensure roads are clear for emergency vehicles, and to free up space for key workers.”

You can sign the petition by clicking on the clicking on this link.

The Independent has contacted the Department for Health for comment.

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