Free parking for nurses in council -run car parks in England will end this month, the government has announced, alarming health unions.
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the government got agreement from local authorities that they would cut parking charges for health and social care workers.
The government has also promised to provide funding to allow free parking in all areas of the NHS hospital.
However, updated instruction from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed that on June 21, staff will no longer be able to access free parking in council-owned car parks and street bays.
Unite warns the move, which follows the government’s next phase of its Covid-19 roadmap, could exacerbate the spread of the latest known variant of the virus first identified in India, by encouraging staff to switch to public transportation.
Because local councils are responsible for setting their own local parking policy, it is understood that councils may choose to pursue the offer.
Separation, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that free parking for NHS staff in England hospitals will remain.
Unite said it planned to write to health and health care secretary Matt Hancock to “ask him to think again and make car parking free for NHS workers in all settings.
“It’s a terrible decision from the government and will come without consultation or warning,” said Unite national official for health, Colenzo Jarrett-thorpe.
He added: “It is not right that health and care staff working in areas where the greater number of migrants are diverse in India be encouraged to bring in public transport, increasing the potential vectors for the spread of illness, due to expensive parking fees.
“Nursing staff are even more deserving of being treated like this especially after their bizarre effort through the pandemic”
“After such a public service, it is pointless that health workers in England, especially those with low incomes, have to go back to paying hundreds of pounds a month in parking fees. “
Meanwhile, the director of the Royal College of Nursing England, Patricia Marquis, said: “The secretary of health should show her gratitude to the nursing staff more than kind words.
“Nursing staff are even more deserving of being treated like this especially after their bizarre effort through the pandemic.”
In response, a government spokesman said: “NHS staff have played an incredible role in every phase of this pandemic, and they will continue to benefit from free parking in hospitals throughout response to the pandemic, thanks to our funding. “
Free parking will also be made available at hospitals to “thousands more patients and visitors to the NHS, including people with disabilities, frequent outpatient visitors, parents of children who spend the night and the staff working night shifts ”.
“More local parking fees will continue if we move on to the next step in the roadmap, but councils can continue to offer them if they want,” the spokesperson added.