- Free NHS car parking for those in greatest need to begin roll-out across England from April 2020
- Blue badge holders, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts will no longer have to pay for parking
- Government to consider car parking capacity across the country, as well as how improved technology will reduce burdens for hospitals and take away stress for visitors.
Thousands of NHS patients and visitors will be able to access free hospital car parking under a new approach set out by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, in line with the government’s manifesto commitment.
Currently, NHS Trusts are responsible for making their own car parking arrangements including setting any charges – any profits of which must be reinvested into frontline care.
From April, all 206 hospital trusts in England will be expected to begin roll out of free car parking to groups that may be frequent hospital visitors or those disproportionately impacted by daily or hourly charges for parking, including:
- blue badge holders
- frequent outpatients who have to attend regular appointments to manage long-term conditions
Free parking will also be offered at specific times of day to certain groups, including parents of sick children staying in hospital overnight and staff working night shifts.
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.”
The Government will work with the NHS and others to ensure that we:
- Spread existing good practice from NHS organisations applying current exemptions effectively to others;
- Use the NHS standard contract if needed to ensure comprehensive compliance; and
- Assess where future capital investment could help to improve all aspects of patient and visitor experience.
In addition to supporting trusts and spreading best practice, mechanisms such as the NHS contract will be considered if they will help to deliver national coverage of the new regime.
Technology has also helped a number of Trusts to improve their parking, and the Department of Health and Social Care will work with the NHS in the coming months to identify and spread practical parking options that can make the most difference quickly.
Trusts could make use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems which use camera technology to scan car number plates, or use a Ticket or Token Systems where eligible people can then redeem free parking, or receive a refund.