Hospital staff losing car park permits

Monday May 13th 2019

Staff Car Park Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

The staff car park at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Little France

Local MSP Christine Grahame has raised the issue of staff parking at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) in the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale has been contacted by a number of constituents who commute to the hospital who have concerns about changes in parking policy as a result of the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children’s construction on a neighbouring site, with a 20,000 strong petition against the changes having been created.

The children’s hospital will open on the Little France site in July, bringing the number of staff at the hospital campus to about 10,000.

But plans have not included further provision for parking, leading to current staff parking permits being under review with many already having been given notice they won’t be renewed.

Staff at RIE already have to pay for their parking as the hospital was built under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) by the previous Labour government, meaning when parking charges were abolished at NHS hospital sites by the SNP in 2008, they could not be abolished because the car park like the hospital, is privately owned.

Under PFI, contractors pay for the construction costs and then rent the finished project back to the public sector under the terms of a legally binding contract. In the RIE’s case this includes contractual terms that the private companies can charge for parking. The contract runs for decades and the cost of buying it out would be beyond what the Scottish Government could afford.

Commenting Ms Grahame said:

“If staff permits are revoked, the option of public transport does not exist for many of my constituents because of shift work and travelling from rural areas. There’s a real risk some people might even have to give up their jobs, losses RIE would sorely miss, and they are already experiencing stress.

“PFI is a real scandal in the Scottish public sector that will have effects for decades after Labour have been out of power. The current Scottish Government is bound by contracts agreed by the previous Labour administration that are not in the public’s best interest, as illustrated by this example.

“The Scottish Government agrees that charging to park at hospitals puts an unnecessary financial burden on NHS staff as wells as patients and has made it clear repeatedly that it wants to see all charges abolished. Notwithstanding the confines of the PFI terms I am glad that the First Minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary for Health to look into this issue to see if any solutions can be found at RIE.”

You can watch Christine Grahame asking her question to Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs WATCH HERE.

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