Parents of sick children staying overnight, staff working night shifts, disabled people and frequent outpatient attenders will no longer have to pay NHS car parking starting April 2020.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced in late last year that thousands of NHS visitors and patients will have free access to hospital parking.
The government will also consider using technology to reduce stress for visitors and lighten the burdens for hospitals across the country by considering car parking. NHS trusts are currently responsible for making their own car parking arrangements which includes setting charges. Car parking charges profits must be reinvested into frontline care.
206 hospital trusts in England will be required to provide free parking to frequent hospital visitors as well as those who are unfairly impacted by hourly or daily charges for parking. This will include patients who frequently attend appointments for long-term conditions as well as blue badge holders. Parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working nightshift will be offered free parking.
The NHS and government will work closely to ensure that organisations will apply current exemptions effectively and if need be, use the NHS standard contract to ensure compliance. Capital investment will be used to improve the experience of visitors and patient. Technology will be used to improve parking, and the Department of Health and Social Care will work with the NHS to identify areas where practical parking can be increased and speedily make a difference.
A few options that are being explored is using an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system which scans car number plates using camera technology. Eligible people will also be awarded the opportunity either redeem free parking using a token or ticket system or get a refund for parking already paid.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This month millions of people put their trust in this government to deliver. One of the concerns mentioned regularly on the doorsteps was that vulnerable people, and staff working nights, have to pay for hospital car parking. So we are today delivering on our manifesto commitment and setting out our new approach to NHS hospital parking charges.
“Currently, the situation varies from hospital to hospital. Instead, from April, across the country those with the greatest need – such as disabled people, parents staying overnight with sick children in hospital, and NHS staff working nightshifts – will no longer have to pay for parking.
“This is yet another example of how this government is delivering on our promises and focusing on the people’s priorities.”