Hospitals miss April target over free parking for night staff and most needy patients

Bosses at the Royal Preston and Chorley hospitals say they won’t be able to meet Government targets to offer free parking for specific groups.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 12:51 pm

In December 2019, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock committed NHS hospitals to providing free parking to night shift staff, as well as disabled patients, frequent outpatients, and parents of inpatient children.

He said this would be implemented by April 2020, but this was delayed due to the pandemic.

>>>Click here to read how much money the Trust makes from parking charges

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Parking Eye has run parking operations for the Trust since 2018

After public pressure last summer, ministers said the measures would be mandatory from January 2021, albeit with some flexibility, and last week, a letter from NHS England’s chief finance officer Julian Kelly ordered leaders to ensure the offer is in place from April.

But it is understood changes won’t happen this month at sites run by Lancashire Teaching Hospital’s Trust, because of the administration burden it carries. Extra kit and extra staff are expected to be needed to administer the concessions and the Trust is currently agreeing technical solutions with ParkingEye, who run the car parks. No time frame for this has been given.

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “We are looking forward to being able to offer free parking for staff working night shifts, as well as disabled patients and visitors, parents of sick children staying overnight, and patients who need to visit us very regularly.

“This will make a big difference to these patients, and help to support staff who have worked extremely hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are currently working through the administrative changes needed to make this happen.”

When the changes come in, the Trust does not anticipate any additional pressure on parking spaces as a result of the change, but does belief there will be a “significant” loss of revenue.

The total number of parking fines issued on Lancashire Teaching Hospitals' sites is said to be "in the thousands", but no specific data has been made available to The Post.

There are around 2.5 million vehicles passing through the car parks annually and ANPR has been in place since December 2018.

There is no “warning” process for unauthorised parking – if a motorist breaches the parking rules they get a fine.

A spokesman for Parking Eye said: “We continue to work closely with our partner at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals to ensure that the parking facilities meet the requirements of all staff, patients and visitors.”