Free parking for NHS staff introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic will end on Friday, Sajid Javid has said. The free spaces were brought in by the former health secretary Matt Hancock on March 25, 2020.
Now, Health Secretary Mr Javid has stated that the provision is closing, almost two years to the day. Mr Javid said in a written statement: “Free parking in hospital car parks for NHS staff introduced during the pandemic will also come to an end on March 31.
“However, over 93% of NHS trusts that charge for car parking have implemented free parking for those in greatest need, including NHS staff working overnight,” reports PA.
At the time, the government pledged to cover the costs of providing free car parking to NHS staff working in hospitals during the unprecedented time. The Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick MP also agreed at the time that local councils would offer free car parking to all NHS workers and social care staff during the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Hancock said at the time: “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. So we will provide free car parking for our NHS staff who are going above and beyond every day in hospitals across England.”
In a written statement, Mr Javid has also said that free Covid-19 tests will still be made available to some NHS staff without symptoms of Covid when rates of the virus are high. Ministers said that the Government will also continue to fund asymptotic tests for some social care and hospice staff during “periods of high prevalence”.
But routine tests for care home and hospice residents will no longer continue and will only be provided in the event of an outbreak or a resident being admitted. And visitors to hospitals and social care settings will “no longer be required to take a test”.
Mr Javid said that three groups of people will continue to get free tests if they have symptoms of the virus including some hospital patients, some people at high risk of severe Covid and some who live or work in “high risk settings” including some NHS and social care settings or prisons. He added that guidance will be published on Friday about “the actions that those with symptoms of Covid-19 or respiratory illness should take to reduce risk of infection to others”.