The Tories have been shamed into finally doing something about the scandal of NHS hospital car-parking charges.
Blue badge holders, frequent outpatients, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts will no longer pay.
The Mirror has campaigned for two years for the charges to be abolished for everyone.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “Pressure from Labour and the Mirror has clearly forced the Government into this change…
“But yet again patients will have to examine the small print and many will still have to pay over the odds just because they are ill.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are delivering on our manifesto commitment and setting out our new approach… From April, those with the greatest need will no longer have to pay for parking.”
Some NHS staff pay thousands of pounds every year to park at work.
Rehana Azam of the GMB union, which represents staff, said: “It’s a welcome step for our campaigning to see this partial measure but ministers need to go further.”
The changes cover hospitals in England. Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, said: “The Government says it will ensure compliance with these measures.
But it isn’t clear about how it will provide the necessary payments to compensate trusts.
“The danger is that it will be taken out of funding for patient care.”
The annual amount paid to park at hospitals has soared to £272million, with much of it going to private firms operating car parks for NHS trusts.
The average hourly rate has risen 13% in five years to £1.35.
Despite anger over the charges, the Tories did not pledge to tackle the issue in their 2017 manifesto.
A 2018 Commons motion by Tory Robert Halfon calling for the fees to be scrapped was backed by more than 100 MPs, but the Government refused to take the issue forward.