Health bosses warn buses may no longer serve stops on Edinburgh Royal Infirmary campus
Staff at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary have been warned buses may no longer call at stops on the hospital campus at Little France because parking congestion is causing delays of up to 45 minutes.
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There has been a huge increase in the number of the cars going to and from the Infirmary site as services at the hospital are stepped up again after the easing of Covid restrictions.
And that has left vehicles, including buses, often having to queue to get into the car park, then facing nose-to-tail traffic all the way through the campus.
Now health bosses have suggested that because of the congestion buses could be withdrawn from the site, leaving staff, patients and visitors to disembark on the main road and walk the rest of their way.
In a memo to staff, NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said: "As NHS Lothian remobilises services, hospital sites are becoming increasingly busy. As you will know, this is particularly true for the Royal Infirmary which is becoming more congested.
"Buses which service the Infirmary to carry staff, patients and visitors can report delays of up to 45 minutes just to move through the site.
"Our largest provider, Lothian Buses, have said it may even consider excluding the on-site stops at the Infirmary from their route if the situation does not improve."
The memo acknowledged there was not enough parking capacity at the site and outlined a series of initiatives to tackle the problem, including a new 250-space car park scheduled to open this winter, a possible shuttle bus between Sheriffhall park-and-ride and the Infirmary and a proposed campus car-sharing scheme.
But it also revealed concerns that frustrations over the lack of parking could boil over, saying that as well as making it easier for staff, patients and visitors the new measures would “also reduce the risk of violence and aggression that our parking management teams are facing as the try their best to maintain access around our site”.
It is understood the Little France site, which also now includes the new Sick Kids hospital, has become so clogged up with cars because of many hospital staff opting to drive to work rather than travel by public transport out of concern over Covid.
The Scottish Government announced earlier this week that negotiations were well advanced to buy out the PFI parking contract at the Infirmary, meaning much-criticised parking charges – suspended during Covid – will be abolished permanently.
The memo noted traffic management teams were already working from 6am in a bid to help staff, patients and visitors find spaces, an interim car park had been developed on vacant ground and staff who can work from home were being encouraged to do so.
A Lothian Buses spokesperson said: “Over the last 18 months, Lothian has provided critical services for key workers across Edinburgh and the Lothians through what have been incredibly challenging times.
“We continue to work closely with NHS Lothian and whilst some of our services have reported delays at the Royal Infirmary during certain times of the day, we currently have no plans to remove services from this area.”