The government pledged to end NHS hospital car parking charges for millions of patients, relatives and staff when Boris Johnson outlined his election manifesto in November.
And further details of how thousands of NHS patients and visitors will be able to access free hospital parking was revealed today – just over a fortnight after the election.
From April, all 206 hospital trusts in England will be able to begin offering the concession in line with the government’s manifesto promise.
Those with the “greatest need” will benefit.
They include people with disabilities and NHS staff working night shifts.
Under the current arrangements, hourly charges at hospitals for parking vary between £1 and £4.
It is up to trusts to make their own car parking arrangements.
NHS hospital car parking fees were abolished in Scotland and Wales in 2008, although a small number of hospitals in Scotland still charge as they remain tied in to contracts with private companies that manage their parking facilities.
Fees may also be charged in Northern Ireland.
Among those who get free parking are blue badge holders, frequent outpatients who have to attend regular appointments to manage long-term conditions.
At specific times of the day, free parking will also be offered to parents of sick children staying in hospital overnight and staff working night shifts.
The government says the change will make the NHS as accessible as possible for those who need it most and have little choice but to travel by car – without leading to congestion in car parks.
It remains unclear precisely how many people will benefit directly.
Many hospitals already offer concessions – either free or reduced charges or a cap on fees for visitors in the greatest need.
Last year, hospital trusts in England collected more than £254m in car parking charges, with a further £1.5m in parking fines, according to data from FOI requests.
The Conservatives have pledged £78m which will fund extra parking capacity or compensation for lost revenue.
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