WORCESTERSHIRE Acute Hospital Trust has confirmed it has moved to make car parking free for all its staff.

The trust's boss has said they have made it free for NHS staff to park on any of its car parks, which include Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, Kidderminster Hospital and Evesham Community Hospital.

In a statement Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “At a time when our staff are working so hard to deal with the biggest challenge the NHS has ever faced, it is important that we do everything we can to help and support them.

READ MORE: 'Just out taking pictures' police tweet on those stopped as they enforce Stay at Home rules

READ MORE: Over 1,000 people and hundreds of students want to help save lives

"As part of a wider package of support measures, we have opened our car parks to all staff so that it is easy as possible for them to come to work if they need to be on site.

"This is free for all staff, whether they usually pay for a parking permit or not, and for those who do normally pay for a permit, we are arranging a payment holiday later in the year to make sure that all colleagues are treated equally.”

The news came after the government faced growing pressure to act and abolish NHS staff parking fees across the country. A petition asking the government to waive parking charges for NHS workers at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, that had launched on Sunday, had attracted nearly 400,000 signatures yesterday. Nationally there had also been reports of staff finishing long shifts, and discovering parking tickets on their cars.

Prior to the announcement, Peter Pinfield, chairman of Healthwatch Worcestershire, the body that represents patients in Worcestershire, called for the government to act.

Mr Pinfield said: "It is a decision for the trust but it should really be coming from the government. Free parking for NHS staff - especially those in critical care who will be needed more than ever in the coming weeks - is something I’m sure the general public would support.

"It is not acceptable for staff to be receiving tickets on their cars.”