Parking charges at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to be scrapped for NHS staff

Announcement expected from Health Secretary

Parking charges can cost staff up to £1500 a year
Parking charges can cost staff up to £1500 a year

HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman is expected to announce parking charges for staff are being waived at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary after protests that private consortium Consort was making profits from the dedication of vital workers fighting coronavirus.

It is understood the fees – which can cost hospital staff up to £1500 a year – could be waived from tomorrow.

There had been cross-party calls for the move, as well as pressure from trade unions and an online petition.

All parking charges were abolished at most Scottish hospitals in 2008, but the country’s three PFI hospitals, which include the ERI, still charge because the Scottish Government says it would cost too much to buy out the right of the private consortia which built the hospitals to impose such fees.

But the Unite union had called for all hospital car parking charges for NHS staff in Scotland to be abolished immediately as they tackled the coronavirus. And the issue was raised at last week’s First Ministers Questions by Lothian MSP and Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs.

He pointed out people were being advised not to use public transport during the crisis and urged the scrapping of the charges for NHS staff. “Given the sacrifice they are making on behalf of all of us, that’s the very least they deserve.”

Nicola Sturgeon said at the time that Ms Freeman was looking "urgently" into the matter, with a view to covering the cost or for the charges to be suspended.

A source said today: “There have been talks including the unions, the NHS and Consort. After all the pressure they have agreed to lift the barriers – the charges are being waived.”

The mother of one ERI staff member welcomed the expected announcement. “It’s high time,” she said. “They should have done it a fortnight ago.”

She said her son, a clinical support worker in operating theatres, could not rely on buses because of his shift times and normally got a lift to work but could no longer do so because of the coronavirus guidelines, so had been taking his car but having to pay.

“It has been costing money for himto go to work to do vital work. At a time like this it feels like profiteering because they have a captive audience.”