PARKING attendants are being accused of “cashing in” on disabled drivers with a crackdown on parking at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Blue badge holders had been allowed to park on double yellow lines as long as they were not causing an obstruction.
But now patients are being hit with a £60 parking penalties after the council imposed new traffic enforcement rules as part of ongoing works to the new Sick Kids Hospital nearby.
One driver, who was taking her 84-year-old mother to an outpatients’ appointment, said she was stunned to find the usual street parking, opposite the ERI’s accident and emergency department, had been blocked off.
She circled the hospital grounds but found existing disabled spaced had been made no parking zones.
She said: “I asked where the disabled spaces are and was told they are designated inside the car park now but you have to pay for it.
“It is absolutely appalling. I was a nurse myself for 35 years and I cannot believe that they now want people to pay for disabled car parking. If you’re disabled, you don’t have a choice to use public transport.
“The ones that are in the car park aren’t even accessible for disabled people as such because of the vastness of the hospital.
“It is totally unacceptable for people attending the hospital. You cannot even drop off on them or you get a ticket.”
City council bosses said signs had been erected to keep the street clear of vehicles the new hospital was being developed.
It is forcing drivers to use the official hospital car parks, which charge £1.30 an hour.
Dr Jean Turner, a former GP and executive director of Scotland Patients Association, said it was “yet another tax on ill health”.
She said: “It’s not just being able to get the parking spot, people have got to negotiate their way into the hospital and often even the disabled bays are quite a walk.
Blue badge holders seem to be being penalised for not being able to use public transport.”
A Unison spokesman said it was “yet another example of an organisation that puts profit before the needs of patients, staff and visitors”.
He said: “We will again be raising this issue with the incoming First Minister to try and find a way out of this contract, PFI is bleeding the health service dry.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said the move compounded the hospital’s already “dismal” reputation for parking. He said “It’s about time this car park was treated as a much needed facility for visitors and patients rather than cash cow at a hospital which already haemorrhages enough money from the public purse.”
A council spokesman said: “All Blue Badge holders should be aware of this as it is clearly explained in the literature provided when a badge is issued. If a driver thinks they have received a parking ticket in error they should contact us directly so that we may consider the case.”