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Published: 16:49, 25 March 2020
| Updated: 12:41, 26 March 2020
Hospital parking charges for exhausted NHS workers on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus have been suspended for two months.
All Kent hospitals have today told staff they will not have to pay to park as they ready themselves for a predicted influx of Covid-19 patients.
The announcement will be a relief to NHS workers with active permits who will not have to pay for parking in April and May.
Anthony Gallagher, an NHS GP, set up a petition for the changes as a way of thanking NHS staff for their ‘‘bravery to step up in our nation's hour of need."
Responding to the government announcement, 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 change.org petition.
"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."
Those who have already paid their annual fee will be contacted by the parking services team in the next few days. Staff who would like to start parking on site do not need to register.
Due to limited space, The East Kent Trust are encouraging those who usually park off-site to continue to if possible or to only use the staff parking areas unless they are told otherwise.
When visitor numbers begin to drop again, the trust will look into reserving more patient and visitor spaces for their staff during the day.
KentOnline has approachedthe other NHS trusts in the county to find out whether they will be introducing similar measures.
More by this authorSophie Bird