Furious NHS workers have slammed local councils across the country for scrapping free parking permits for frontline workers during the pandemic on June 21.
On March 25 last year Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the government would cover the costs of car parking for NHS staff who he said were ‘going above and beyond every day’ at hospitals in England.
In July last year, the Department of Health said that the scheme cannot continue indefinitely, stating that free parking will continue only for ‘key patient groups and NHS staff in certain circumstances’ as the pandemic eases, although no further timeline was given.
On May 17 the government announced it would be withdrawing its emergency parking pass guidance on June 21 to coincide with the original ‘Freedom Day’ set out by the prime minister when he revealed his roadmap out of lockdown.
Furious NHS workers have slammed local councils across the country for scrapping free parking permits for frontline workers during the pandemic on June 21. Tagging North Lincolnshire Council and sharing a photo of his parking ticket, Scunthorpe pharmacist Dale McVeigh tweeted: ‘Is this how you treat NHS Frontline workers in The Ironstone Centre?’
Despite the decision last week to extend the restrictions until July 19, many NHS workers lost their right to free parking on Monday.
According to the government website, local councils are responsible for setting their own local policy on parking. It adds that ‘current or potential pass holders are advised to contact their local council find out about any local plans for the future of the parking pass, or to check whether they are eligible for other local parking permits’.
Several NHS workers who were caught out and received fines took to social media to complain, while others criticised local councils for failing to continue the scheme given the fact the pandemic isn’t over.
It comes as a petition to scrap parking charges for NHS and frontline workers completely hit 114,027 signatures.
Tagging North Lincolnshire Council, Scunthorpe pharmacist Dale McVeigh tweeted: ‘Is this how you treat NHS Frontline workers in The Ironstone Centre?? Given passes to use in car park during pandemic and no notification that this has ended. Parking pass displayed yet still get a ticket so many workers have tickets. Shame on you.’
Several who were caught out and received fines took to social media to complain, while others criticised local councils for failing to continue the scheme given the fact the pandemic isn’t over
Directing her tweet at Folkestone and Hythe District Council, Emily Reynolds complained: ‘Thank you to the parking warden from @fstonehythedc who gave me a ticket today.
‘Not only was I in a @NHSKentCHFT [Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust] vehicle but I was at work urgently visiting a patient for the Home Treatment Service. Why have parking permits been discontinued for NHS? The pandemic isn’t over.’
And Chelone Lee-Wo, a consultant midwife in Tooting, south London, tweeted: ‘Thanks to Wandsworth council for more than a year of free parking in local streets for NHS workers, and for issuing only warning PCNs today with NO FEE attached to remind us that the free period has ended.’
In response, nurse Anne Hazelby commented: ‘I’m looking forward to my £25 parking bill tomorrow for my 11.5 hour work day.’
Justine Kerrigan, who has worked for the NHS for 22 years, tweeted the Mayor of Liverpool to ask: ‘Is there any chance that NHS community staff, DN’s and all AHP staff can have parking permits reinstated? Covid permits have expired. This makes the job very difficult when parking city centre.’
On Sunday Torbay Council tweeted a ‘final reminder’ to its residents that the scheme was coming to an end on Monday
The government website states that local councils are responsible for setting their own local policy for car parking – despite it scrapping charges nationwide during the pandemic
And Brighton resident Gary Palmer raged: ‘Please tweet @GeoffRawBHCC @Phelimmac @BHGreenCllrs to reverse #shameful re-instatement of BHCC council Parking charges for NHS staff going to work to save lives. You’ve clapped them, You’ve marched with them, You’ve claimed you value them, but now you seek to profit from them!’
On Sunday Torbay Council tweeted a ‘final reminder’ to its residents that the scheme was coming to an end on Monday. It previously tweeted on June 18: ‘A reminder to all NHS and critical care workers in Torbay. From Monday 21 June 2021, temporary car parking permits and concessions linked to the COVID-19 emergency response period will no longer be valid across Torbay.’
Wiltshire Council-owned car parks are no longer free of charge to NHS staff as of Monday, while Islington Borough Council also responded to a tweet asking if it’d had a ‘change of heart’ about ending the scheme on June 21 with a link to its website stating that it was going ahead.
Certain councils have decided to extend the scheme, with Haringey in London keeping passes valid until July 19.
Other Twitter users who reside in the London Borough of Camden told how they received an email yesterday alerting them that the permits would no longer be valid from July 30.
Other Twitter users who reside in the London Borough of Camden told how they received an email yesterday alerting them that the permits would no longer be valid from July 30
Elliott Hughes tweeted: ‘Camden Council doing the vital work of removing parking permits from frontline NHS workers on July 30th. Even as cases rise. Wonder if those @CamdenCouncil clapped these workers last summer?’
Hadley Middleton also posted, writing: ‘Just had an email from Camden Council to say they’re withdrawing parking permits for all NHS and frontline workers. Amazing how quickly the “heroes of the pandemic” are again expendable.’
The petition on the campaign website 38 Degrees, addressed to Mr Hancock and Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, describes the government’s plan to scrap free emergency parking for NHS workers as ‘yet another kick in the teeth to NHS workers fighting in the frontline of the pandemic’.
‘They’re trying to pass the buck onto local councils, saying they have the power to make their own decisions on parking in council car parks. But after all the sacrifices our NHS workers have made, this isn’t good enough,’ it goes on.
‘The current scheme shows that the government has the power to give NHS workers the free parking they so desperately need. Now it’s time they take responsibility and ditch their plan to end the scheme.’
Mail Online has reached out to North Lincs Council, Brighton and Hove Council, Folkestone and Hythe District Council and Camden Council for comment.
A Folkestone & Hythe District Council spokesperson said: ‘We have extended the free COVID-19 parking pass for care workers in Folkestone and Hythe until 19 July. All motorists have the right to appeal if they are unhappy about a PCN issued to their vehicle – we understand that right has been exercised on this particular occasion. Our parking team will consider all representations in accordance with the legal requirements.’
A Camden Council spokesperson said: ‘Other boroughs in London withdrew from the parking scheme months ago – we are one of the last to do so.’
Last year The British Medical Association (BMA) has said to reintroduce charges while the virus is still being fought would be ‘a rebuff to the immense efforts of staff across the country and the sacrifices they have made to keep others safe’.