Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary staff parking permit scheme 'won't be ready' for launch, claim workers

Staff at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary are calling for a parking permit scheme due to start on Monday to be postponed because of a backlog in processing permit applications.

By Ian Swanson
Friday, 14th January 2022, 4:55 am

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Many hospital workers want the whole idea scrapped and there are warnings staff are ready to quit their jobs because of the problems it will cause.

But amid claims it will be weeks before all permits are allocated, one worker warned it could be a shambles if health bosses went ahead with the scheme before it is ready.

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The staff parking permit scheme at the Royal Infirmary is due to start on Monday

He said: "They at least need to postpone it until they have everything in place and then hopefully rethink the whole thing and drop it."

The plan to bring back permits follows a parking crisis at the Infirmary which has seen staff travelling to the site stuck in three-mile queues and reports of some arriving hours before their shifts to get a space and avoid having to walk off campus in the dark.

NHS Lothian says the permits are being allocated according to a points system taking into account factors including whether staff have to work at more than one location, the number of journey legs from a staff member’s home and any caring responsibilities.

A free shuttle bus is to be provided between Sheriffhall park-and-ride and the hospital.

But a member of the Infirmary’s support services staff said the scheme would add significantly to many people’s journeys to work and they were annoyed and frustrated.

“I applied in November and haven't heard anything at all. A lot of folk haven't heard back.

“I rang the department dealing with it and they said they were weighed down with applications and it was going to take them weeks to deal with them all.”

And he claimed the scheme penalised back-shift workers like himself because the shuttle bus would not be running at the right times.

"The shuttle bus will run from 5.45am to 8.30am and from 4.15pm to 8pm. I work 2-10pm, so if I park at the park-and-ride I'll have to get the regular bus and pay £1.80, then at the end of my shift I'll have to wait on a bus and pay £1.80 to get back to my car.

“There will be hundreds of us affected, including doctors and nurses.

“Apparently if you're on night shift you'll get free parking because it's outwith busy hours.

"And people on part-time shifts, working from 5pm till 10pm, won't be affected because the guys managing the car park finish at 4pm.

"So it’s the back-shift who lose out.”

He said anyone living on a bus route which would get them to work in less than 90 minutes would not get a permit.

"They're saying even if you have to get more than one bus, one-and-a-half hours on the bus to get to your work is acceptable.

“Who wants three hours commuting every day? When you've had a hard shift, you just want to get home.”

NHS Lothian said planning regulations restricted the number of parking spaces and it had to balance the needs of staff, patients and visitors.

Deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said: “The current shuttle-bus timetable is being run as a pilot to help assess usage. Staff are encouraged to share their views on the operating times and frequency of the service.”

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