A CAMPAIGN backed by 2,000 supporters to reintroduce free parking for NHS staff at Coventry’s University Hospital has succeeded in a hospital policy U-turn.
Although free parking will be reinstated during the Covid-19 pandemic – it will only be valid for permit holders until the end of the financial year, March 31 2021.
While welcoming the move, Coventry South Labour MP Zarah Sultana calls for it to be extended to all staff, patients and visitors – and to be made permanent.
Ms Sultana, who led the campaign after free parking for NHS was scrapped in June, said: “Our NHS staff have been incredible during this pandemic, battling this virus on behalf of us all. That is why it was scandalous that the Government broke its promise and failed to guarantee free parking for all NHS staff throughout the pandemic.
“But the truth is NHS staff have been underpaid and overworked for too long. Staff have told me how high parking charges have forced some low-paid workers out of the jobs they love.
In a statement to UHCW staff last Friday (December 4), Professor Andy Hardy, UHCW CEO, wrote: “We’ve received confirmation that an allocation of funding has been made available from the Government to reinstate free staff parking during the ongoing pandemic. The offer is effective from Tuesday 1st December and will be in place until the end of the current financial year (31st March 2021) for permit holders only.”
As part of the campaign Ms Sultana handed in a petition to Parliament with more than 2,000 online signatures, wrote to PM Boris Johnson with the support of 42 MPs, trade unions and NHS campaign groups, confronted the Prime Minister in the House of Commons and last week secured a debate in Westminster to raise it with a Government minister.
Ms Sultana said: “So while I am pleased that Government funding has been allocated to UHCW to reinstate free parking for permit holders, the Government must now live up to its promise and provide funding for free parking for all NHS staff throughout the pandemic.
“As I have said from the start of the campaign, free parking should not just be brought back for the pandemic, but should be made permanent. It’s an unfair double tax on NHS staff, just as it is an unfair tax on patients getting ill and on visitors seeing their loved ones. So I will keep calling on the Government to follow the lead of the Welsh government, where parking is free for all NHS staff, patients and visitors.”