ERI Parking: NHS Lothian drop planned increase amid staff protests

Plans to increase car parking charges have been dropped.  Picture; Danny Lawson

Plans to increase car parking charges have been dropped. Picture; Danny Lawson

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Car parking charges at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will remain frozen after NHS Lothian dropped plans to increase them amid staff protests.

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One of the proposed increases would have seen hospital staff being charged £15 for parking in the visitors and patients car parks – a staggering 114 per cent increase from the current £7 a day tariff.

The Evening News told last week how staff were planning to boycott shops and catering facilities at the flagship hospital in a bid to overturn the planned increases which were to take effect from August.

Jim Crombie, Deputy Chief Executive, NHS Lothian said: “We have discussed with staff the proposal to increase parking charges and we have listened to the concerns they have raised. We have fed this back to our private sector partners and have agreed that charges will remain at the current level for this financial year.

“We understand the impact that travel to and from work can have on staff but also the frustration patients and visitors experience when trying to park to attend an appointment or visit a patient. We will use the review to explore these issues in detail.”

NHS Lothian does not own or operate the car park at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The charges for the car park are set by Consort Healthcare in line with the PFI agreement.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had previously said she thought the proposed charges were not “fair”.

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs, who raised the matter with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, at First Minister’s Questions said: “This is very welcome news for all the staff, patients and visitors who use the RIE car parks.

“The Evening News is to be congratulated for leading the campaign against the price hikes and as a Lothian MSP who has also been trying to fight these increases I am delighted that I have been able to work alongside the Evening News and constituents who have collected thousands of signatures in online petitions and have successfully forced a u-turn from NHS Lothian.

“Although people will be relieved, NHS Lothian have suggested that the charges will only not be increased this financial year for people who use the car parks. It would be totally unacceptable if we were to face an annual battle against draconian and unacceptable parking charge increases and therefore I will be continuing to urge SNP Ministers and NHS Lothian to work to develop a long term solution that provides affordable parking for staff and patients and increases the capacity of the car parks at the RIE.”