PDA calls for rethink of decision to end free parking for NHS workers

The UK government has announced that it is ending a scheme for NHS workers which has provided free parking to those on duty during the COVID-19 emergency response period.

Thu 27th May 2021 The PDA

The scheme, which was announced within days of the first lockdown in March 2020, provided free car parking to NHS, health and social care workers, as well as for NHS volunteer responders while they are on duty. Passes were made available through NHS trusts, councils and the Royal Volunteer Service and enabled pharmacists, and others in scope, to access parking concessions in local authority-owned off-street car parks and on-street bays.

Although the guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the scheme “will last for as long as government deems necessary, as part of its COVID-19 response”, this has recently been updated confirming the decision to withdraw the passes by 21 June 2021, “following the publication of the government’s roadmap for lifting COVID-19 restrictions”.

With thousands of pharmacist members working in NHS hospitals, the PDA is disappointed by this decision.

Paul Day, PDA Director said “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of “key workers” in our society, however this decision feels like the government is racing back to the days where the contributions of pharmacists and other health workers were undervalued. 

The pandemic is not yet over, but already the same government that wants to limit the NHS pay increase to just 1% is also taking this subsidy away from those same workers, and prematurely.  ‘Clapping for carers’ still does not pay for parking.”

In response to a petition in 2020, which called for NHS staff parking to be free all of the time in England, and was signed by almost 60,000 people, the government said that the Prime Minister committed on the 8th July 2020, that parking for NHS staff would continue to be free for the duration of the pandemic.

Only yesterday, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock told MPs that it is too early to say whether the June 21st lifting of Covid-19 restrictions will go ahead, as the latest figures confirmed 3,180 new cases of coronavirus, the highest number of cases since April.

Paul Day added “We are calling on the government to look again at this disappointing and poorly timed decision, and for local NHS employers and car park operators to consider how they might continue to provide this free parking to the hard-working professionals who are still key workers and still dealing with this on-going pandemic”.

PDA members are advised to look closely at arrangements in local car parks to see when and how arrangements may change, in particular from 21 June, when even if they have an existing pass under this scheme, they may still find they will be fined or ticketed unless they have paid a parking fee.

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