Being the location of the first coronavirus vaccination in the world has “put Coventry on the map”, health secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Responding to a question from Coventry MP Zarah Sultana in an update on the Covid-19 situation in the House of Commons this afternoon, Mr Hancock said it “made my heart sing” to see the first people vaccinated earlier this week.
But Ms Sultana said Coventry’s NHS workers had been “let down” by the government over parking fees.
In his address, Mr Hancock announced that London and parts of the south would be increased to Tier 3 restrictions from midnight on Wednesday, and that a new strain of coronavirus has been found in the UK.
A review of the Tier system for the rest of the country, including Coventry and Warwickshire, is expected on Wednesday.
Ms Sultana had asked about hospital parking fees for NHS staff, but Mr Hancock declined to answer.
The Coventry South MP has previously spoken out over the issue, calling the health secretary “out of touch” last month when he wrongly claimed on national television that NHS staff were not having to pay to park.
UHCW reintroduced fees for staff in June, in line with many other hospitals, after fees were initially waived at the start of the pandemic.
At the start of December, it was announced that funding had been made available from the government to UHCW to reinstate free parking for staff during the pandemic.
This means that staff who have permits won’t have to park until the end of the financial year.
Ms Sultana is calling for the arrangement to be made permanent, and for it to be available for all NHS staff.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Monday, December 14, she said: “I was really proud to see that it was Coventry’s NHS staff who administered the first vaccinations in the country.
“But they have been let down by the government. They were promised free parking throughout the pandemic only for charges to be reintroduced in June and also at many other hospitals across the country.
“Only after I handed in a petition, spoke to the Prime Minister and secured a Westminster Hall debate was free parking reinstated for permit holders at Coventry’s hospital. But it is still denied to staff without permits.
“So will the government live up to its promise and provide NHS trusts with the funding for free parking for all of their staff?”
Mr Hancock replied: “I’ll just answer the first bit. I was absolutely thrilled to see Coventry delivering the first vaccination in the world, it made my heart sing and I am so glad that we managed to do that with the help of the international scientists, with the help of the NHS, with the help of the regulator.
“We have made such progress and it really put Coventry on the map and I hope that the honourable Lady is proud.”