Petition started for private company to return £1m waived parking charges at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to Scottish Government
On Saturday, it emerged that the Scottish Government would need to fork out £950,000 to cover the cost of free parking at Scottish hospitals during the coronavirus crisis despite an appeal by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to the private companies to suspend their charges.
PFI firms like Consort, who run Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, were blasted for putting their own profits first at a time when the NHS is facing unprecedented pressures.
Now, a petition started by Derek McLelland has amassed almost 2000 signatures.
In the Change.org petition he wrote: “Consort Healthcare have taken £950,000 from the Scottish Government to cancel parking charges for three hospitals, Ninewells in Dundee, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Glasgow Royal Infirmary for a three month period whilst our brave doctors and nurses battle to save lives in the fight against the Coronavirus.
“Hector MacAulay is the Managing Director of Balfour Beattie who owns Consort Healthcare and I implore him to hand this money back so that it can be used to buy masks, PPE, ventilators or any other equipment needed.
“We're currently living under lockdown in an effort to save lives. As we've discovered with Prince Charles and Boris Johnson contracting the virus, Covid-19 does not care how much money or influence you have. We need every penny we can muster in order to buy all the equipment needed to fight this virus.
“Hector MacAulay or whomever made this idiotic decision to take the money, please change your mind. I hope that none of the people in your company get this virus. I hope that none of your families get this virus.
“From what we've seen around the world, this is not a time for profiteering. This is a time for laying aside EVERYTHING in an effort that when we get through this, we'll be able to say we did everything in our power to save each other.”
Parking at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary can cost staff as much as £1500 a year. Charges range from £1.40 per hour up to £7.20 for six hours.
Speaking last week, Tom Waterson, Unison’s branch chair for NHS staff in Edinburgh said: “We expect everyone to do their bit in these testing times.
“Companies like Consort should not be continually making money off the back of NHS workers - and in the main it will be workers, with visiting and outpatients cancelled.
“Making huge profits off the back of the NHS is unacceptable.
“We’ve seen the outpouring of thanks in the Clap for Carers and what see here is a private company ripping these same carers off.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman tweeted last week: “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.”
Although patients and visitors will also be entitled to free parking during the next three months, there will be few affected since all outpatient appointments have been cancelled and visiting has been suspended apart from families of those receiving end-of-life care and partners of women giving birth.
When approached, a spokeswoman for Balfour Beattie confirmed that last year they sold their shareholding in Consort and are no longer associated with the company.
Consort could not be contacted for comment.
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