HOSPITAL bosses have made a partial U-turn over a parking ban for staff at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
But union representatives are predicting there will still be chaos when new restrictions are introduced, stopping doctors, nurses and other NHS employees from paying to use most of the car parks at the Little France site.
Staff at the ERI were sent a memo last Friday, announcing they would no longer be able to park at the hospital unless they had a parking permit.
After talks with the union officials, NHS Lothian has now agreed staff can carry on paying up to £7 a day to use the staff car park, if they can find a space.
The two-week trial, which starts on Monday, will still see security guards turning them away from the other car parks used by patients and visitors.
Unison branch secretary Tom Waterson welcomed the move as “a half-decent concession” and said staff would be “a bit happier”.
But he said: “I think it’s still going to be chaos because we are losing so many spaces.”
The parking ban has been prompted by the closure of what was the ERI’s main car park – with 800 spaces – to make way for the new Sick Kids hospital and neurosciences centre. The staff car park at the hospital has 1127 spaces, but 1430 staff permits have been issued and there are 563 on the waiting list.
Mr Waterson said: “Everyone has known for years the new Sick Kids was going to be built there, but this has just been sprung on staff without proper consultation.”
Staff sources today reinforced concerns revealed in yesterday’s Evening News that the parking ban could affect patients if key personnel were not able to get to work on time.
Once source said: “Some staff have said that, for example, dropping their children off at nursery/school and then relying on public transport to get to work is not feasible. This applies to nurses, doctors and theatre staff, with the potential for clinics running late and theatre lists starting late.”
Some doctors have also warned management they will not be able to get to work on time and will have to leave early, with a knock-on effect on patient care.
NHS Lothian has said it is concerned about patients and visitors, particularly older people and those with mobility problems, not being able to find a parking space.
It said the agreement to allow staff to continue to pay for parking in the staff car park would form part of the trial and would be assessed at the end of the two weeks.