Hospital parking charges update

On 25 September the Government responded to the petition 'Make parking for all NHS staff free all of the time.'  It did not get 100,000 signatures and will therefore not be debated in the House of Commons.

However the Government did respond to the petition - see the full statement below. Essentially the Government has shifted its postition from saying the implementation of the manifesto commitment for those in greatest need 'has been on hold whilst the NHS has been managing the COVID-19 pandemic' to...

'[it] will become mandatory in England from January 2021...we expect NHS trusts to implement this commitment over the coming months'.

It has restated that 'Hospital car parks are free for NHS staff for the duration of pandemic and the Government is delivering on its manifesto commitment to make them free for those in greatest need.'

We continue to press the government to confirm the full definitions of the four groups in greatest need so that we know what is expected on 1 January 2021. The four groups include those who are:

  • disabled
  • frequent outpatient attendees
  • parents who have sick children that are staying overnight in hospital and
  • staff working nightshifts 

The 2020/21 NHS Standard Contract has in fact mandated Trusts in England to do all they can to implement them from April 2020 however it is impossible for Trusts and the car park operators to develop the procedures and implement the committment by January, if they don't know the full definitions with advance notice. 

Hospitals (Parking Charges and Business Rates) Bill 2019-21

This Bill aims to prohibit charging for car parking at NHS Hospitals for patients and visitors; to make provision for NHS Hospitals to be exempt from business rates; and for connected purposes. It is a Private Members Bill and due for its 2nd reading on 16 October. Very few PMBs become law but, by creating publicity around this issue, it aims to affect legislation indirectly.

The Government response to the petition

On 25 March, we asked the NHS and local authorities make staff parking free during the pandemic, so they can travel safely and more easily to work. This commitment was further reinforced by the NHS People Plan, published on Thursday 30th July which states that ‘NHS organisations should continue to give their people [ie staff] free car parking at their place of work for the duration of the pandemic’.
The Prime Minister restated this commitment on the 8th July, making clear that parking for NHS staff would continue to be free for the duration of the pandemic.

NHS Trusts employ many thousands of staff and usually have only a proportion of that number in car parking capacity. The reduced patient and visitor traffic to hospitals throughout the pandemic has provided some of the extra capacity needed to support free staff parking. Additional capacity from outside the NHS has also been required to make free staff car parking work during the pandemic.

To help deliver free NHS staff parking, the Local Government Association also committed on 25th March that Local Authority parking spaces would be free for NHS staff to use. The NHS has also worked with commercial car park operators to obtain further capacity for NHS staff. However, even with this additional capacity, some NHS Trusts have struggled to provide parking capacity for all their staff.

As workplaces and city and town centres have seen businesses reopen, we have seen demand for commercial car parks return, so limiting the availability of this extra capacity.

We want the NHS to deliver on the Government's commitment of providing free hospital parking for those in greatest need. This means we are rolling out free parking for disabled people, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of children staying overnight and staff working night shifts, which will become mandatory in England from January 2021. The Government recognises that it is not possible to provide free parking for everyone but that these groups have a greater need for hospital parking than others.

We announced that the new exemptions would begin to be rolled out beginning from April 2020 however the full roll-out programme has been delayed due to the pandemic as we prioritised supporting NHS staff with free parking. We expect NHS trusts to implement this commitment over the coming months.

Thousands of NHS patients, staff and visitors will be eligible for free hospital parking under these rules.