Sunderland MP clashes with Piers Morgan in hospital parking charges debate

Piers Morgan told a Sunderland MP to ‘spit it out’ when she failed repeatedly to say whether Labour would call for hospital staff parking charges to be scrapped as a thank you to NHS workers.

Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 2:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th July 2020, 2:24 pm

Appearing on Good Morning Britain (GMB) on Wednesday morning (July 8), Bridget Philipson, Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, refused to confirm if the party would call for hospital parking charges for NHS staff to be axed despite numerous questions for both presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reed.

Since March 25, the Government has covered the cost of parking for NHS staff but the Department of Health has said the free parking will continue only for “key patient groups and NHS staff in certain circumstances” as the pandemic eases, although no further timeline has been given.

Speaking on GMB, Bridget Philipson, who is also Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “It strikes me as unfair that NHS staff would be asked to start paying before they are able to resume using public transport once again especially because we want them to stay safe.

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Piers Morgan and Bridget Phillipson MP on Good Morning Britain. Picture by ITV

“The Government guidance is advising people not to use public transport wherever that is possible and of course for lots of NHS staff who are shift workers or who aren’t able to use public transport to get to work that just isn’t possible.”

The Sunderland MP is then interrupted by presenter Susanna Reid, who asks: “Am I missing something here?”

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The presenter asks why, when Wales has scrapped parking charges, Labour has not come out and said the ‘least we can do’ for NHS workers is scrap parking charges.

But Ms Phillipson’s response doesn’t satisfy co-presenter Piers Morgan who steps in.

“We need solutions but we also need clear leadership,” Morgan told Ms Philipson. “It would be quite nice to hear Labour say this is an outrage. It is ridiculous that in Wales there are no charges for anybody – patients, staff, visitors – and we demand the same in this country as a thank you to our health workers, can you say that?”

Ms Philipson repeats that she feels it is unfair but says this is only one part of the picture.

Following further debate, Morgan chimes up again calling for Ms Phillipson to ‘spit it out’ and give a definitive ‘yes or no’.

But Ms Phillipson insists she feels she has been ‘clear’ before Morgan abruptly ends the interview saying: “OK you know what we tried, we’re not getting a straight answer.”

In Sunderland Liberal, Democrat councillors say ‘extortionate’ parking charges for NHS staff should be scrapped.

Coun Niall Hodson said: “It is absolutely right that they shouldn’t be punished for parking at work, especially when it isn’t as safe as usual for them to be using public transport.

“Even if this Covid-19 crisis was close to being over, scrapping free parking for NHS staff shows that the Government have learned nothing. We have been clapping for carers over the past few months – but we must match that with real action to improve things for NHS and care workers.

“That’s why extortionate parking charges for NHS staff should be axed.”

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