Comment: Can packed lunches really stop hospital parking charge rises?

ERI staff are braced for a huge parking hike. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

ERI staff are braced for a huge parking hike. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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The idea of a ‘packed lunch protest’ against parking charge rises at the Royal Infirmary is certainly original.

More importantly, it is not as daft as it sounds - far from it, in fact.

The problem for any protest against the proposed increase in charges is that the political route appears to have hit a dead end.

The SNP has banned parking charges at other hospitals and Nicola Sturgeon has denounced the plans for the ERI. But, understandably, the Scottish Government has shown no appetite for the expensive business of ripping up the private finance contract which ties the hospital to parking fees.

There are limited options for anyone who decides that grin and bear it is not a good enough response. Political pressure and public opprobium have failed to get a result. So what next?

One answer is hit Consort, the private company which runs the hospital buildings and car parks, in the pocket. If enough people, boycott the shops - and who is to say that patients and visitors will not support the staff protest - then it should affect the company’s profits.

The NHS also faces the prospect of staff asking en masse to be transferred away from the Royal. This protest could be hard to ignore.