NHS workers are being offered free parking at more than 900 car parks across the country as the coronavirus pandemic sets in. The car parks involved include those close to major UK hospitals, where staff may be desperately needed in the coming weeks and months.

The initiative is the brainchild of YourParkingSpace.co.uk, which describes itself as “the UK’s leading on-demand parking marketplace”. The organisation is giving NHS workers a “unique code”, which will allow them to reserve parking free of charge using the company’s app.

The system allows drivers to book parking in advance by selecting a car park and then using the app to pay (or not, in the case of NHS staff) for a time slot. The driver can then turn up at any point during that slot, park, and leave at any time before the end of the slot.

In total, YourParkingSpace.co.uk's NHS offer covers 943 car parks, including those at shopping centres and hotels, as well as supermarkets. And the company says “many” of those car parks are near hospitals and other health facilities.

For example, the car parks currently on offer include the Holiday Inn Express Leeds City Centre, which is a 10-minute walk from Leeds General Infirmary. Similarly, the Holiday Inn Express Derby, which is 650 metres from the city’s London Road Community Hospital, is also available to book.

Car park sign

Although the scheme is currently only available to NHS staff, who must use their NHS email addresses to access their unique code, YourParkingSpace.co.uk says it is planning to extend the scheme to other “key services workers” over the next few weeks. The organisation also says it is in “ongoing discussions” with space owners and will “continue to update its website with additional places to park”.

Harrison Woods, the chief executive officer of YourParkingSpace.co.uk, said the spaces would help NHS staff finding it more difficult to get to work thanks to the coronavirus’ effect on public transport systems.

“In these unprecedented times, it’s important that we do what we can to help,” he said. “With reduced public transport in many places and increased movement of health workers, we’re pleased to be working alongside supermarkets, shopping centres and hotels to assist key workers in this small way. We plan to add new spaces to the platform every day - hopefully it’s something that helps to make things easier for NHS staff and other key services workers.”

White car looking for parking