HEALTH bosses are being urged to consider building a multi-storey car park to ease parking problems at St John’s Hospital, Livingston.
Lothian MSP and Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said the difficulty in finding parking spaces meant patients were missing appointments.
And he suggested Lothian NHS board might find a philanthropist willing to step in and help fund a new car park.
Campaigners said parking had been a long-running problem at St John’s which was never properly tackled.
Ellen Glass, of the campaign group Action to Save St John’s, said: “They never really built enough car parking and it has caused a big problem for staff.
“Some people use the hospital car park as a park-and-ride – they leave their car there and jump on a bus into Edinburgh.
“And now that services like ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) have been moved from Edinburgh to St John’s, that means more clinics and more people coming for appointments with their car. People are coming and finding they can’t park and missing their appointments.”
Ms Glass said the idea of a multi-storey car park had been floated before. “They said that would be the answer and it could easily be done, but it comes down to money.”
Mr Briggs called for the issue to be raised at the next NHS Lothian board meeting.
And he urged health bosses to seek an “imaginative” solution to the problem, from expanding opportunities for additional parking close to the hospital to seeking funding to build a multi-storey or building another car park close by and running a shuttle bus service.
He said at other hospitals, local businesses had stepped in. The new car park at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary had been funded by Sir Ian and Lady Helen Wood’s charity, the Wood Foundation.
Mr Briggs said: “The parking difficulties at St John’s hospital continue to increase and clearly need a renewed focus to find a long term, sustainable solution. I have asked NHS Lothian to put the issue of parking at St John’s on the next board agenda and would like to see a working group established to consider how we can deliver a solution to the problem.
“The NHS in Scotland is already in a challenging situation and there shouldn’t be additional problems for staff, patients and visitors, such as not being able to get a parking space.
“Given the financial pressures facing our NHS it may be possible that NHS Lothian can seek a solution from local businesses or a philanthropic individual, like has been the case with Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and see if they are willing to help fund a new car park without diverting funds from vital healthcare services.”
Professor Alex McMahon, NHS Lothian director of nursing, said: “We know patients and staff face difficulties when parking at St John’s because of the limited number of spaces on site. That is why we have created a small, dedicated staff car park – freeing up extra spaces for patients and visitors in the main car parking area – and why we are also planning to set up an expert group to examine longer-term solutions, including investing in additional capacity.”