Buy out of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary car park contract will abolish parking charges for good
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Charges have been suspended since the start of the Covid pandemic and the SNP’s manifesto at May’s Holyrood elections pledged to ensure parking became permanently free in the long term.
The government – which abolished parking charges at all non-PFI hospitals in 2008 – had previously said it would be too costly to “buy out” the contract for the car parks at the Infirmary and Scotland’s two other PFI hospital car parks at Gasgow’s Royal Infirmary and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
But today, it announced it had reached agreement to buy out the contracts for the Glasgow and Dundee sites, with management of the car parks transferred to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Tayside.
And it said negotiations were also progressing to take over the last remaining PFI car park in Scotland at ERI, with an agreement expected to be reached “in the coming months”.
The government said it had provided the funding for NHS Greater Glasgow’s £26.3m buy out at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and NHS Tayside’s £9m buyout at Ninewells.
No figure was mentioned for Edinburgh, but when NHS Lothian tried to negotiate with PFI consortium Consort in 2009, the price demanded was £14.5m.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "I am delighted to announce that these facilities will come into public hands and help phase out the legacy of PFI in hospital car parks in Scotland.
"We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to our NHS workforce for their heroic efforts throughout the pandemic and this will ensure that, along with patients and visitors using our hospitals, they will not face the prospect of parking charges returning."
He said there were now no car parking changes in place at any Scottish hospital after government secured an arrangement to suspend them at the three PFI sites.
"This announcement shows we are determined to ensure they will not return at any PFI site in Scotland.”
He said parking at ERI would remain free while the final agreement was reached.
NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said: “We look forward to the completion of negotiations with our PFI provider to end parking charges on our sites permanently and are grateful for the funding that enables staff and patients to continue to park free of charge in the meantime."
After the then Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced the suspension of parking charges in March 2020, the Evening News revealed the Scottish Government was having to fork out £950,000 for three months' free parking at the three PFI hospitals.
And the companies involved came under fire for continuing to “want to make a profit out of our NHS even at a time of crisis”.
Before her announcement Ms Freeman had tweeted: "The companies making these charges should support the national effort that is critical to addressing the challenges Covid-19 presents. I am asking the urgently to do that now. But if profit matters more, then @scotgovt will still act to support all our NHS staff."