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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nhs-patient-visitor-and-staff-car-parking-principles/nhs-patient-visitor-and-staff-car-parking-principles
This guidance replaces the ‘NHS patient, visitor and staff car parking principles’ that were originally published in 2015.
They have been updated to reflect changes in policy to implement the government’s manifesto commitments on free parking and response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Other elements of the 2015 principles are still applicable and are reiterated below for clarity.
COVID-19 commitment to NHS staff
The NHS People Plan, published on 30 July 2020, committed that “NHS organisations should continue to give their people [staff] free car parking at their place of work for the duration of the pandemic.”
This reaffirmed the PM’s clear commitment given at Prime Minister’s Questions in early July when he said: “hospital car parks are free for NHS staff for this pandemic – they are free now – and we are going to get on with our manifesto commitment to make them free for patients who need them as well.”
Free car parking for those with greatest need
The current (2020 to 2021) NHS Standard Contract [Service Condition 17.10] requires that NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts must comply, where applicable, with NHS car parking guidance. From 1 January 2021, they must ensure that any car parking facilities at the provider’s premises for service users, visitors and staff are available free of charge to those groups and at those times identified in, and otherwise in accordance with, that guidance.
This provision will remain in the contract for 2021 to 2022, with the wording updated to reflect that compliance is now an ongoing requirement.
The definitions of these groups are as follows.
A disabled person is a holder of a valid Blue Badge attending hospital as a patient or visitor or is a disabled person employed by the hospital trust.
Disabled patients and visitors receive free parking for the duration of their attendance at, or visit to, the hospital. Disabled employees receive free parking while at the hospital for purposes relating to their employment.
Frequent outpatient attenders
Parking will be provided free to all outpatients who attend hospital for an appointment at least 3 times within a month and for an overall period of at least 3 months. A ‘month’ is defined as a period of 30 days.
Parents of sick children staying overnight
The parent of a child in hospital overnight is a parent or guardian of a child or young person, under 18 years of age, who is admitted as an inpatient at hospital overnight.
They receive free parking between the hours of 7.30pm and 8.00am while visiting the child. This would apply to a maximum of 2 vehicles.
Staff working night shifts
Staff working night shifts are members of staff with a shift starting after 7.30pm and ending before 8.00am. They receive free parking for the duration of their shift.
Trusts should implement the above policy by the end of April 2021.
The following actions from the 2015 principles remain voluntary but all trusts should implement them wherever possible.
NHS organisations should continue to work with their patients and staff, local authorities and public transport providers to make sure that users can get to the site (and park if necessary) as safely, conveniently and economically as possible.[footnote 1]
Charges, where they exist, should be reasonable for the area.
Concessions, including free or reduced charges or caps, should be available for the following groups:
visitors with relatives who are gravely ill, or carers[footnote 2] 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
Other concessions, for example for volunteers or staff who car-share, should be considered locally.
Trusts should consider installing ‘pay on exit’ or similar schemes so that drivers pay only for the time that they have used. Additional charges should only be imposed where reasonable[footnote 3] and should be waived when overstaying is beyond the driver’s control (such as when treatment takes longer than planned, or when staff are required to work beyond their scheduled shift).
Details of charges, concessions and additional charges should be well publicised including at car park entrances, wherever payment is made and inside the hospital. They should also be included on the hospital website and on patient letters and forms, where appropriate.
NHS trusts should publish:
their parking policy
their implementation of the NHS car parking principles including implementation of free car parking for those with greatest need
financial information relating to their car parking
summarised complaint information on car parking and actions taken in response
Contracted-out car parking
NHS organisations are responsible for the actions of private contractors who run car parks on their behalf.
NHS organisations should act against rogue contractors in line with the relevant codes of practice[footnote 4] where applicable.
Contracts should not be let on any basis that incentivises additional charges, for example ‘income from parking charge notices only’.
The 2015 Health Technical Memorandum 07-03: NHS car-parking management: environment and sustainability provides further advice on providing parking in the NHS.
Each site is different and very few will be able to provide spaces for everyone who needs one. Since 2010, national planning policy no longer imposes maximum parking standards on development, and no longer recommends the use of car parking charges as a demand management measure to discourage car use. ↩
Carers are those as identified in the:
Care Act 2014 section 10(3)
Children and Families Act 2014 section 96
Children and Families Act 2014 section 97
Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995
‘Reasonable’ implementation of additional charges practice might include additional charges for people who do not have legitimate reasons for parking (for example, commuters), or who persistently flout parking regulations (for example, blocking entrances). A period of grace should normally be applied before a parking charge notice is issued. ↩
There are 2 trade associations: the British Parking Association and the Independent Parking Committee. If the car park operator is a member of either, their relevant code applies, and an appeals service is available to motorists. NHS organisations should consider imposing a requirement for contractors to be members of such an association. ↩