Comment: time for a solution to unfair charges

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paying to park at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is not a new issue.

It was highlighted at the time the hospital was built and again when parking at NHS-owned hospitals across Scotland became free in 2009.

And so it has continued to annoy ever since with the cries of protest becoming fainter and turning into general acceptance that it is blatantly unfair but there’s not an awful lot anyone can do about it.

Then we hear about the case of Joyce Walkingshaw and her family – both blue badge holders – who are having their first taste of the fees.

Unfortunately the family is no stranger to the hospital given Joyce’s health problems but has been used to parking in free blue badge spaces. These have now been lost with disabled drivers instead directed to the main pay car parks along with everyone else.

The upshot?

A near-£700 bill just to visit a sickly relative in their hour of need.

A discount for regular visitors like them is available but it would have saved them a total of about 60p-a-day. In other words, not worth the hassle.

They are not unique in being landed with such a huge cost. Many other families who do not have blue badges will have been forced to stump up the cash over the years.

But it does once again highlight how unfair these charges are and perhaps will give fresh momentum to calls for a rethink by hospital operator Consort.

There should be no parking charges at any hospital, whether you are a blue badge holder or not.

Anything which is likely to dissuade visitors to the sick and vulnerable simply cannot be right.

Joyce Walkingshaw’s family swallowed the cost of visiting her, many others could not have done.

It may not be a new issue, but with the fresh problems hitting disabled drivers, it’s time for a new solution.