However, the free hospital car parking won’t be available for everyone - this is who the changes will affect.
Free car parking
The Conservative Party manifesto states: “We will end unfair hospital car parking charges by making parking free for those in greatest need.”
All 206 hospital trusts in England will be expected to offer the concession in line with the manifesto promise.
As it stands, hospitals across England charge an hourly rate which can vary between £1 and £4. NHS trusts are free to set their own charges, as long as they reinvest the profits made into frontline care.
Who is eligible for free parking?
Those eligible for free parking in 2020 are:
- Blue badge holders
- Frequent outpatients who are required to attend regular appointments for long term conditions
- Certain groups such as parents of sick children staying in hospital overnight and staff working night shift
When will it come into effect?
The changes are set to come into play in April 2020, but the Government hasn’t set a specific timeline for rolling out the new guidelines.
Many hospitals already offer concessions for visitors that fall into the “greatest need” category, as outlined by the Government website.
It states: “Concessions, including free or reduced charges or caps, should be available for the following groups:
- Disabled people
- Frequent outpatient attenders
- Visitors with relatives who are gravely ill, or carers of such people
- Visitors to relatives who have an extended stay in hospital, or carers of such people
- Carers of people in the above groups where appropriate
- Staff working shifts that mean public transport cannot be used”
NHS parking across the UK
In Scotland and Wales, NHS hospital car parking fees were scrapped in 2008. A small number of hospitals in Scotland still charge a fee as their parking facilities are managed by private companies.
Fees may still be charged in Northern Ireland.