The government will cover the costs of providing free car parking to NHS staff working in hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff car parking will be free at all Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust sites including the John Radcliffe hospital and at a number of other local car parking facilities which have been made available off-site near the hospital.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock made the pledge yesterday as he wants to ensure NHS workers 'have whatever they need during this unprecedented time'.

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He added:  "So we will provide free car parking for our NHS staff who are going above and beyond every day in hospitals across England.

"My enormous gratitude goes out to the many NHS Trusts and other organisations already providing free car parking and I urge other Trusts to do the same with our backing.

"We will do what is needed to protect the NHS, support our health and care staff, and save lives as we tackle COVID-19."

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NHS Trusts are responsible for setting car parking charges locally, and the Health Secretary is urging all Trusts to make use of government funding to abolish parking charges for their staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The JR has sourced 500 extra spaces from local partners within a 10-20 minute walk of the hospital in Headington which the Trust says is going to be the focus of COVID-19 treatment.

It is extending its existing permit system for staff car parking.

Parking on site at the JR will be prioritised for staff on wards treating virus patients to make things as easy as possible for them.

The government's pledge comes after a petition was set up on calling for the government to waive parking charges for NHS workers at hospitals which received thousands of signatures.

It was set up on Saturday by Anthony Gallagher, who thanks all for showing their support.

He said: “I am in no doubt that the Government did not begin this week intending to cover all parking charges for NHS staff. This is a massive success, thanks to all the hundreds of thousands of people who signed my petition. 

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I hope after this nightmare has passed, that the Government will still notice how NHS workers go above and beyond EVERY day.

"It would not be reasonable, at that time, to give them all a pay-cut and reinstate parking charges. I am optimistic that the Government will do what is right and scrap these parking charges permanently."