Businesses including retail outlets, bars and gyms are being urged to make their now empty car parks available to all health and care employees to use without charge, says UNISON today (Tuesday).

The union, which represents NHS, school, police, care and other essential key public service workers, is calling on local businesses closed because of the lockdown to help key workers drive to work and avoid public transport.

UNISON is also asking parking operators to follow the example of National Car Parks, which has opened up for free more than 150 sites around the country.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Tubes, trains and buses are rammed with passengers including health and care staff. It’s essential they can get to work without putting their lives and those of patients and the people they care for at risk.

“Local business owners whose premises are closed should do the right thing and free up their parking spaces -especially those situated near hospitals. As many staff that can should be able to drive in to do their jobs.

“Travelling by car would help keep NHS and care employees safe, and protect those they’re caring for.

“Parking spaces at hospitals and clinics are limited especially in cities and towns. Any additional capacity donated by local businesses could literally be a lifesaver.”