EARLIER this week it was announced that free parking for NHS staff in England would be scrapped as the coronavirus pandemic begins to ease.

Introduced at the beginning of lockdown, workers at NHS hospitals were given free parking to help reward their efforts in the fight against Covid-19.

Back in March, the government promised all NHS Trusts would receive the "financial backing" to cover the cost of staff parking.

But now this looks to be scrapped for all but those in "key patient groups," The Northern Echo's readers have had their say.

Dave Wilson called the move "disgusting" and said: "If you work for NHS or even a careworker taking patient for appointment. You should have not to pay to park while doing your job."

Paul Lamb said: "Why not, they work for the hospital don't they, so it should be free parking for them, bloody wage they get (is not) up to much anyway and you want to fleece them every day at work again."

Nicky Clark called the re-introduction of parking fees 'outrageous' and said: "How quickly the heroism of people is forgotten. They should not have to pay."

But opposing these views, some readers provided an alternative opinion.

Christopher Totty said: "Why should parking be free for the NHS and not for every other profession? It should be the same rule for everyone..."

Barbara Lincoln Lonsdale said: "All front line workers , police etc have to pay to park at work too, it should be free for all workers, but unfortunately these car parks are not owned by the NHS etc, so if this is to continue they have to get the money from somewhere."

Analysis by The Echo found that staff across the North-East paid more than £6m in hospital car parking fees between 2017 and 2018.

It found more than £16m was raised in total over the same period, with the majority of car parking payments made by visitors and patients.