As NHS staff work around the clock to battle the spread of the coronavirus, the government has confirmed they will get free parking at hospitals.
Here’s how it works and who is eligible for a free parking space.
What is the new parking policy for NHS workers?
NHS staff working during this “unprecedented time” are being provided with free car parking, a government announcement stated.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “Our NHS is facing an unprecedented challenge, and I will do everything I can to ensure our dedicated staff have whatever they need during this unprecedented time.
“So we will provide car parking for our NHS staff who are going above and beyond every day in hospitals across England.”
Free parking will also be applied to council owned on-street spaces and car parks.
Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “Our NHS staff and social care workers are working around the clock to save lives and should not have to worry about the cost or time restrictions of parking.”
These changes will apply to all on street parking and open, council-run car parks, which includes pay and display. These will be suspended for health workers, social care workers and NHS volunteers.
The announcement from the government explained: “Councils will set up local arrangements so NHS and care workers and volunteers can provide suitable evidence that they can display in their windscreen to ensure they avoid parking tickets.”
Will the same rules apply in Scotland?
It was announced that from Monday 30 March that car parking charges for NHS staff in Scottish hospitals would be removed for three months, where they’re still applicable.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We cannot have barriers to staff working in the NHS.
“Last week, I said that I would act, if I could, to remove parking charges from those PFI car parks in our hospital settings.”
Freeman went on to say that car parking charges would be removed from Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Staff working at Ninewells currently pay £2.40 per day, staff at Edinburgh are charged £7.20 per day, and those parking at the Glasgow Infirmary are charged £1.80 per hour.
While NHS car parking chargers were scrapped by the SNP in 2008, this did not apply to car parking facilities that are managed by private companies.
Coronavirus: the facts
What is coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?
The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?
As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath – but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?
Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
As of Monday 23 March the prime minister has put the UK into lockdown and instructed all citizens to stay at home. People can only leave their homes to exercise once a day, go shopping for food and medication, travel for medical needs or to care for a vulnerable person, and travel to work only if essential. Police will be able to enforce these restrictions.
All non-essential shops will close with immediate effect, as will playgrounds, places of worship and libraries. Large events or gatherings of more than two people cannot go ahead, including weddings and celebrations. Funerals can only be attended by immediate family.
Children of separated parents can go between both parents’ homes.
Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.
The government has now instructed bars, restaurants, theatres and non-essential businesses to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis. Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.
The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate. People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake “shielding” for 12 weeks.
For more information on government advice, please check their website.
Should I avoid public places?
You should now avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
Don’t go to your GP but instead look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
When to call NHS 111
Only call NHS 111 if you can’t get help online and feel very unwell. This should be used if you feel extremely ill with coronavirus symptoms. If you have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus please use the online service.