ELECTED representatives of North Yorkshire’s residents have unanimously approved pressing all NHS trusts serving the county to continue providing free on-site parking at hospitals for their staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

North Yorkshire County councillors have also invited the trusts to reconsider their parking policies and using grants for sustainable travel options to enable NHS staff to change their commuting habits, reducing carbon emissions.

The appeal to the trusts follows ongoing concerns from unions and reports in recent days that some NHS organisations are reinstating or are planning to reinstate parking charges for staff, despite the prime minister stating in July that parking at hospitals for NHS staff would remain free until the end of the pandemic.

In addition, the NHS England People Plan, which was published at the beginning of August, stated: “NHS organisations should continue to give their people free car parking at their place of work for the duration of the pandemic”.

Despite this, it has been claimed some NHS trusts in the south of England are examining increasing the cost of annual parking permits by 200 per cent.

Councillor Geoff Webber told a meeting of the full county council that while some NHS trusts had suspended parking charges during the pandemic, it was important that the council made a statement over its support for the staff.

He said: “I am quite sure that six months ago most of us would have been standing outside our houses clapping in recognition of the extraordinary efforts being made by NHS staff at considerable risk to themselves.”

Members said NHS staff were risking their health and possibly their lives to save other people’s lives from Covid-19, they should not have to pay to park at work. They said NHS staff driving to work in their own car rather than using public transport was safer for the staff and ultimately for their patients, rather than using public transport.

Councillor Mike Jordan said his son was working as a paramedic and had been infected and staff needed all the support they could receive.

He added: “The amount of work these guys are doing on the frontline is fantastic. A lot of them are having to do double shifts just to keep the show on the road.”

The meeting was told in many cases, NHS staff workers’ shifts and home locations prevented the use of public transport.

Councillor David Goode added communities across North Yorkshire still had a long way to go until they were free from the threat of Covid-19.

He said: “Covid still represents an ever-present threat with many people being infected daily and needing hospital treatment.”

Maintaining free parking would “go some way towards demonstrating the public’s appreciation for NHS staff who have put their lives on the line to care for the sick and dying”.