Ministers to scrap NHS hospital parking charges for those in 'greatest need' from April
Groups of patients with "greatest need" will see NHS hospital parking charges scrapped from April under new plans announced by the government.
Thousands of NHS patients and staff will be entitled to free car parking after the government announced the scheme which will see all 206 hospital trusts in England forced to scrap charges from April
Parents of sick children staying overnight in hospital and those with chronic conditions attending appointments will all be expected to receive free parking under the scheme.
Meanwhile, those with disabled badges and NHS staff working night shifts in hospitals will also be see charges scrapped.
Currently hospitals are allowed to charge for parking provided they reinvest the profits into frontline care.
But under the proposed scheme, set out in the party's election manifesto, hospitals will not recieve any additional funding to cover the cost for scrapping parking charges vulnerable patients.
Announing the plans, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, said: "This month millions of people put their trust in us to deliver, many voting Conservative for the first time.
"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.
He added: "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 night shifts - will no longer have to pay for parking."
Saffen Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS providers, said: "Trusts want patients to be able to access care at minimum cost and maximum convenience. That's why many already offer parking concessions.
"But providing parking carries a cost. The government says it will ensure compliance with these measures. But it isn't clear about how it will provide the necessary payments to compensate trusts.
She added: "The danger is that it will be taken out of funding for patient care."
Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth, said: "Labour MPs have long campaigned for hospital car parking charges to be ditched.
"But yet again patients will have to examine the small print as many will still have to pay over the odds just because they are ill."