Darren Adam 1am - 4am
Tom Swarbrick challenges Health Secretary over parking charges for NHS staff
15 July 2020, 09:31
Tom Swarbrick challenged Health Secretary Matt Hancock over Government plans to reintroduce hospital parking charges for frontline workers after the crisis.
Tom Swarbrick branded the move a "totally unnecessary" way of "burdening hard-working NHS staff", with reports suggesting workers could face costs of up to £40 per day.
Mr Hancock told LBC this was the "first he'd heard of it" and Tom cited International Trade Secretary Liz Truss who said in the Commons that the fee freeze "could not last forever."
"That's right, we brought this in for the crisis period," confirmed Mr Hancock, "we're keeping parking free for staff for now."
Mr Hancock said "of course" this issue will have to be resolved as when visitors are allowed back to hospitals.
Tom pushed Mr Hancock to make a commitment: "They have worked incredibly hard during this, they have lost colleagues from this as well, you know better than anyone about the effort that they've put in.
"You're spending money like it's going out of fashion understandably, let's put some money aside to pay for NHS workers to have free parking."
The Health Secretary responded that the Government has "absolutely put money aside" to build extra hospital car parks so visitors, patients and staff will have spaces.
"Will you commit to looking at it?" Tom pushed.
"I know how strongly people feel about this subject, I know how important it is and people feel strongly about it, more than many other things. So we absolutely are looking at how to make sure the use of hospital car parking is as fair as possible in the long term," Mr Hancock said.
Tom suggested the Government look at the issue "pretty quickly" as there is "a lot of anger about it."