NHS staff will get free parking at hospitals during the coronavirus crisis. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the move last night saying he will do everything he can to ensure NHS staff have whatever they need during this unprecedented time.

The news comes as yesterday afternoon University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) had already confirmed its decision to wave parking charges for NHS workers helping in the Covid-19 response at hospitals in the city.

The government is now set to provide immediate financial backing for all NHS trusts to provide free car parking to NHS staff for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak.

Following the announcement, UHS said the trust will now look at how it will implement the new measures for current permit holders. 

In a statement UHS also added: "We also recognise that some staff who have had their work pattern changed or who have been affected by the scaling back of public transport have faced challenges with getting to work.

"In response, arrangements have been made to open up more staff parking on site to colleagues who are helping in our response to the COVID-19 outbreak and who do not have an existing parking permit.

"This may include those who have been redeployed to clinical roles, who are volunteering, returning to work, working different shift patterns or who may have ordinarily used public transport.This was implemented yesterday (Wednesday, 25 March) with the blue car park now made available for these staff groups on a first-come-first-served basis free of charge."

It added: "Those who live close by or have already made alternative parking arrangements are asked to maintain these to facilitate as many care givers to work as possible.

"Staff who currently have a car parking permit of any nature, will be able to continue to park in their allocated car park, this includes the park and ride users who have recently returned to site.

"All public parking will be redirected to the orange car parks at the front of the hospital."

Bus providers Bluestar have also introduced a service for key workers to enable them to arrive in time for morning shifts.

The new service is being introduced on the Bluestar 17 route, at 6.20am from Weston to Adanac Park. This journey arrives at Southampton General Hospital at around 7.10am, the trust said.

Last night the Health Secretary urged all trusts to immediately make use of government funding to abolish parking charges for their staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also praised those NHS Trusts who are already providing free car parking to staff working on the frontline.

The news comes as following an agreement between the government, local councils and the Local Government Association (LGA), health workers, social care workers and NHS volunteers will be able to park for free in council-run carparks. 

Yesterday Southampton City Council had already announced that permit parking restrictions will also be temporarily lifted in Hollybrook Cemetery to facilitate parking for additional NHS resources.