THE Royal Bank of Scotland has closed its branch at Edinburgh’s flagship hospital as customer numbers fall.
The announcement came days after the state-supported bank announced that pre-tax profits had doubled in six months to £2.7 billion.
Open for 16 hours per week, the branch at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary served its final customers last week.
The branch closure has been blamed on its isolated location and a 30 per cent drop in transactions.
An RBS cash machine will remain within hospital grounds. However, patient groups, MSPs and hospital staff have all attacked the move, insisting the branch was popular and well used.
Dr Jean Turner, a former GP and executive director of Scotland Patient Association, said the bank played an important role at the hospital – particularly for older patients.
“My first reaction is that it will be sadly missed and second is how many people did they ask about it?” she said. “Not everyone can do things electronically and what happens when the [bank] machine runs out of money?
“I think it’s disappointing that when they are beginning to show a profit they feel the need to close a bank branch especially in a huge area like Little France, which is quite a distance from town.”
One employee at the hospital, who did not want to be named, disputed claims the branch’s customer base was thinning out.
“It’s very well used by patients. It’s a very busy branch,” the employee said. “I can’t believe they can do this. It’s a vital service. I don’t understand how they can justify it.”
She said lots of bank customers had made formal complaints about the closure but had received no reply.
The branch was manned by staff from other branches who worked on a rotational basis and so no jobs have been lost.
It is the third RBS branch in the city to shut in recent months following closures at North Bridge and Balerno.
Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack said she was disappointed by the decision that leaves the ERI without an onsite bank branch.
She said: “It’s sad to hear the ERI’s RBS branch is to close given the large number of staff who work in the ERI, never mind patients and visitors.”
Consort, the firm which built and runs the hospital, said it would market the vacant bank unit with NHS Lothian.
An RBS spokesman said: “Banking has changed significantly over the last few years as more and more of our customers are using digital technology to bank with us where and when it is convenient for them.”