Call for more parking spaces at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary as charges to be scrapped
Health bosses in Lothian are being urged to review parking provision at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and consider increasing the number of spaces to cope with demand.
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The call comes after the Scottish Government announced parking charges at the PFI hospital are to be scrapped permanently by buying out the car park contract.
Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs welcomed the abolition of the charges, but said there was a wider issue about ensuring there were enough parking spaces to cater for patients, visitors and staff who needed them.
He said: “We need to see investment in parking facilities beyond this and potentially more parking spaces provided. "A lot of services have been put to Little France and we’ve not seen a similar rise in the level of parking available. Parking is probably beyond capacity already."
The new Sick Kids Hospital is now up and running alongside ERI and if the Scottish Government approves the plans there could soon be a new eye hospital on the site as well.
He said: "This is an opportunity to get this right for patients, visitors and staff. If we don’t, it might be free to park but there might not be any parking spaces available and residents around that area will become frustrated as parking is displaced into their communities.
"Encouraging people to use public transport only goes so far, especially in the winter months.
"And I've had a lot of staff complain to me that they have been told previously they can't park there and they can't have passes for parking, that they should be using park and ride sites or cycling in."
Mr Briggs said before the government's withdrawal of support for a replacement Eye Pavilion last year he was pressing for more parking than was being proposed in connection with that move and now there are signs the project is back on he wants an assurance there will be an increase in parking provision.
NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said work was already under way to improve car parking.
“As NHS Lothian remobilises services, hospital sites are becoming increasingly busy. This is particularly true for the Little France site, which is becoming more congested.
“The Pan-Lothian Acute Car Parking Group has been monitoring the situation closely and is working to ensure the site remains safe and accessible for blue lights, staff, patients and visitors.
“Traffic management teams are on site, space allocation has been remodelled to offer balanced access and existing spaces have been reallocated among partners. An interim car park on vacant ground has been developed with Edinburgh BioQuarter and funding for a 250-space car park has also been secured.
“However, we are conscious that more needs to be done and we are working with staff across the organisation to hear suggestions about making the site more accessible for all.
“As a result, negotiations with Lothian Buses continue to try and establish a shuttle bus that would run regularly between Sheriffhall Park-and-Ride and Little France.
“Discussions have also begun around developing an ambitious campus ‘car sharing’ initiative and we also intend to re-introduce the staff permit system, at nil cost to staff, that was in operation before the pandemic.”