The AA is offering NHS staff free breakdown assistance during the coronavirus “crisis”, regardless of whether or not they are AA members. It’s a move that Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, described as a “fantastic example of how organisations are pulling together during this crisis”.

Under the scheme, which is already in operation, anyone with an NHS ID can call for help if they have a breakdown. A dedicated NHS hotline has been set up on 0800 072 5064, through which NHS staff can call for free recovery to and from work as well as help if they break down at home.

The offer is available to approximately 1.5 million NHS workers across the UK, and will be offered as long as the crisis continues, with reviews on a “regular basis”. The AA is encouraging NHS staff to register online to receive a text message with the dedicated phone number to speed up calling for breakdown assistance. However, the firm has promised staff will still be able to get help from the AA if they have not registered.

The news follows a pledge from the UK branch of the PSA Group, the owners of Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall, which promised to provide owners with free breakdown cover regardless of their vehicle’s age. It also follows a Nissan dealer in north-west England’s decision to offer NHS staff reduced prices on parts, repairs and servicing.

AA repair van and mechanic at the side of the road in Sheffield

“We all recognise that everyone across the NHS is doing an absolutely vital job and we want to help them,” said Simon Breakwell, AA chief executive officer. “The last thing they need to worry about right now is a breakdown, so we’re pleased to be able to help them with free recovery to and from work for as long as the current crisis continues.

“The idea came from numerous suggestions from our people indicating that the NHS are there for us, so we want to be there for them. This applies to everyone in the NHS from cleaners, porters, nurses to surgeons, as they are all crucial. Like the entire nation, everyone at the AA is incredibly proud of the work and dedication of the NHS. We salute them and hope this assistance will help them.”

AA London Ambulance Service

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has endorsed the idea, saying the scheme would allow NHS staff to concentrate on the job of providing treatment in our hospitals during the crisis.

“As we look to do everything possible to combat coronavirus, it’s crucial that we put provisions in place so our NHS workers can focus on giving life-saving treatment in hospitals,” he said. “Offering free breakdown service support will keep health workers moving and is a fantastic example of how organisations are pulling together during this crisis.”

Recovery breakdown lorry with car being secured for transport