PLANS to force NHS staff at Basingstoke hospital to pay for parking have been “put on hold” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals in Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester, said its transport plan has been “put on hold for the foreseeable future” while it deals with the current crisis.

As previously reported in the Gazette, the 6,000 staff who work for the trust across the three hospitals faced having to change the way they travel to work both in the short and long term.

The plan detailed a vision to promote cycling to work, IT investment to work at home, more staff car-sharing schemes and minibus schemes for staff, and an expansion of park and ride sites.

Once adopted, the new plan would also introduce charges for staff parking on site.

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While staff parking charges have been put on hold, the trust said other aspects of the transport plan, such as more secured places to leave bikes, may be introduced.

The announcement to put staff parking charges on hold at Basingstoke hospital, comes as a petition putting pressure on health secretary Matt Hancock to scrap staff parking charges altogether, resulted in all parking charges for staff being removed at hospitals for the time being.

Launched by Anthony Gallagher, an NHS GP, and signed by more than 400,000 people, it says: “I am very proud to be a part of our NHS. Now, as with generations before ours, a small minority of our population finds itself with both the skill and the bravery to step up in our nation’s hour of need.

“This is not the first time that so much is owed by so many to so few, nor will it be the last, but this is our time. It is the NHS and its workforce that now stands between us and the greatest mass tragedy we have faced in generations.

“My request is simple. Please stop charging this workforce to use their staff car parks.”

He added: “If you really are as grateful as you say you are to the staff of our NHS, then please abolish staff parking fees and fines throughout the NHS immediately and forever.”