Free parking for NHS staff working in hospitals in England will end on Friday, the health secretary has said.
Parking fees were waived during the Covid-19 pandemic, but Sajid Javid said the benefit would end this week.
In a Covid-19 update, Javid wrote: “Free parking in hospital car parks for NHS staff introduced during the pandemic will also end on March 31.
“However, over 93% of NHS trusts that charge for parking have implemented free parking for those who need it most, including NHS staff working night shifts.”
He added: “On behalf of the government, I would like to express my thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly to keep people safe over the past two years and whose efforts have enabled us to move to the next stage of the Covid-19 response.”
Rachel Harrison, the national head of the GMB union, told the PA Media news agency: ‘To charge NHS staff who risked their lives during the pandemic to park at work is a bad joke.
“After years of Tory cuts, NHS trusts are in trouble, we know that. But taking money from hard-working workers is not the solution. The government must now legislate free parking for hospital staff once and for all.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Our incredible key NHS workers are putting their lives on the line to help us get through this pandemic. Removing free parking in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis is a poor way to repay that service.
“The government should give health workers an appropriate pay rise – without adding to their bills. And it should fund our NHS properly so that hospitals don’t have to depend on car parks for their income.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the benefit was “temporary” and introduced in July 2020 “for the duration of the pandemic”. He said the program had cost around £130million over the past two years.
Unison health manager Sara Gorton added: ‘This is no way for the NHS to hang on to staff in today’s job market. Parking fees will add hundreds of pounds to the huge cost pressures healthcare staff are already facing and further reduce their morale.
“Those who are already on the verge of leaving the NHS may well see the last straw and head for the exit, just as the service is most in need of experienced staff. More than a third of staff have had to ask family or friends for financial support in the past year, according to research by Unison. More than two-fifths say they take extra work to make ends meet.
“This is the reality facing health workers. An anti-inflationary pay rise is essential to prevent more staff leaving NHS jobs this year. »