Edinburgh Royal Infirmary parking problems: Health bosses agree to consider shared permits
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MSPs have also sent a joint letter to Health Secretary Humza Yousaf asking for a lifting of the moratorium on car-sharing introduced to combat the spread of Covid.
A permit system for staff parking was re-introduced in January to tackle a shortage of spaces and increasing congestion at the infirmary’s Little France campus. But it has meant many staff facing long journeys to work, often involving more than one bus.
And some of those who drove and left their car at Sheriffhall Park and Ride were left fearing for their safety when they returned to pick up their vehicle late at night. The health board responded to that by changing the rules to allow parking on site without a permit for those arriving after 11.30am and adding more shuttle buses to the park-and-ride.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “The parking situation at the infirmary has caused a great deal of distress to many working at the hospital. Everyone working at the hospital has done an incredible job, under the most trying circumstances imaginable over the course of the pandemic and many of them feel they are being punished by the permit system.
“At the moment many staff without permits are arriving at work to the disheartening sight of many spaces left empty by those who have permits but are working a different shift pattern. This could be solved by making the permit system more flexible, to allow staff on different shifts to share a permit.
“The current moratorium on car sharing also needs to be ended. It makes little sense to prevent staff from travelling to work together given the fact driving lessons have been going ahead for months, provided masks are worn.
“We also need greater transparency on how the points-based system is currently working, so that staff can scrutinise it."
But he added: “These are sticking plasters – they won’t solve the problem entirely, but they will make life easier and I think people will feel they're being treated a bit more fairly.”
Lothian Tory MSP Miles, who also took part in the meeting, welcomed the moves by the health board and also the approach to Mr Yousaf on car-sharing.
He said: “A lot of people have said they were car-sharing before and that was working for them, but currently the guidance says they can't, so that needs to be reviewed sooner rather than later.
"It was a useful meeting, but it was only the start of what needs to be a longer-term solution.”
NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said the parking changes were a necessary step to help ease congestion in a way which was fair and equitable for all staff groups and the hospital had responded rapidly to feedback.
"Parking permit applications are scored anonymously and are based on a clear eligibility criteria that takes account of a broad range of factors including individual needs and circumstances.”
The employee director had launched a survey with the unions to seek further feedback. “The data from this will be used alongside our dynamic data gathered by our parking teams and ongoing staff feedback to help shape and inform any future decisions on car-parking and travel at the campus.
“We have and continue to encourage staff to engage constructively with us, sharing any ideas they have to improve things further. We have also actively engaged with a number of other interested parties including elected officials. All ideas have, and will continue to be, assessed by the Lothian Parking Group and will be considered alongside the data we are gathering and the feedback we have received.”