NURSES working at the Western General Hospital claim their cars have been vandalised amid a row with local residents over parking.
Residents are angry at staff taking parking places outside their homes because health workers are prevented from parking at the hospital itself.
While there is no evidence that locals were responsible for the vandalism, it has led to tempers rising even further in the dispute.
Last month, local residents hit out at council bosses for failing to paint parking restrictions which would prevent hospital staff from using nearby streets.
But medical staff insist they have nowhere else to go.
One nurse, who did not want to be named, said: “Not so very long ago the Western General Hospital had a two-storey car park built, one level of which, we were assured, would be for staff and the other for patients and visitors.
“Once the car park was finished, however, the powers-that-be reneged on this promise and removed the right of staff to use it. Staff are therefore forced to park in the nearby residential streets.
“It should be noted that a number of cars belonging to staff have been vandalised in recent weeks. While the finger of guilt can not be pointed at any individual or group of people, it adds further to the growing animus. Other staff – myself included – have been met with verbal abuse and hostile behaviour from residents who are angry at the situation.”
Local councillor Lesley Hinds, who had been fighting the residents’ cause, said she had been told by the council that yellow lines would be painted in Telford Drive in the coming weeks.
She said: “It’s not right that anybody would vandalise cars, but I’m hoping a solution can be found to help both staff and residents who are being inconvenienced.”
Health chiefs opened the new car park at the Western General early last year and had hoped it would ease congestion at the site.
There has been a rise in the number of complaints about available spaces since the scrapping of hospital parking charges in 2009.
Jackie Sansbury, chief operating officer for University Hospitals Division, NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian has a green transport policy where we encourage members of staff to use greener methods of travel where possible, such as car sharing, public transport or our bike to work scheme.
“Where staff do need to drive to work, we have a prioritisation system in place for the allocation of staff parking permits, to ensure that essential car users are able to park on site.”
Comment – Page 14