With the coronavirus pandemic in full flow and the UK effectively in lockdown, the government has introduced a raft of measures to help those working on the front line. The latest scheme, announced yesterday (March 25), sees NHS and social care staff offered free car parking.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government will cover the costs of providing free car parking to NHS staff working in hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the Department for Health and Social Care is asking NHS trusts, which run hospitals, to “immediately make use of government funding” and abolish parking charges for their staff.

The calls from the government come as the Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, agreed local councils would also offer free car parking to all NHS workers and social care staff during the outbreak. NHS staff will suspend charges for health workers, social care workers and NHS volunteers for on-street parking spaces and open, council-run car parks, including those with pay-and-display meters.

According to the Department for Health and Social Care, councils will organise local arrangements so NHS staff, care workers and volunteers can provide suitable evidence to display in their windscreens. This will ensure, the department says, such people avoid parking tickets.

The news comes after the National Car Parking Group confirmed it will also provide free parking for NHS staff at all 150 of its car parks, while online parking reservation firm YourParkingSpace.co.uk pledged free parking for NHS staff at more than 900 car parks nationwide. Ministers are asking businesses and other organisations located near hospitals to work with local NHS trusts to allow NHS staff and volunteers to use their car parks.

Secured multi-story public car park at night

“Our NHS is facing an unprecedented challenge, and I will do everything I can to ensure our dedicated staff have whatever they need during this unprecedented time,” said Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary. “So we will provide free car parking for our NHS staff who are going above and beyond every day in hospitals across England.

“My enormous gratitude goes out to the many NHS Trusts and other organisations already providing free car parking and I urge other Trusts to do the same with our backing. We will do what is needed to protect the NHS, support our health and care staff, and save lives as we tackle Covid-19.”

Cars parked in a parking lot

And NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the provision of free parking would be helpful for staff, but added that further provisions would be made over the next few weeks.

“Our NHS staff are working round the clock gearing up to deal with this unprecedented global health threat, which will be a major challenge for health services across the world,” he said. “We have listened to what they have told us would make their lives easier. Free parking will make a big difference for hundreds of thousands of frontline staff, but this is just the start, and we will be setting out further support offers over the coming days and weeks, to ensure the NHS looks after those who look after all of us.”