Hospital chief warning over congestion disruption to ambulances as date confirmed for parking permits

Queues of cars trying to park at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary are at risk of delaying ambulances and other emergency vehicles, a hospital chief has said.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 4:55 am

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In a letter issued on Wednesday, Jim Crombie, deputy chief executive of NHS Lothian, said that congestion created by cars queuing to park on campus “can’t be sustained” and that it has potential to disrupt blue light services, as well as causing delays for patients, visitors and staff.

Mr Crombie, who is also chair of NHS Lothian parking group, confirmed staff permits will be reintroduced on 17 January, stating that the decision had “not been taken lightly”.

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Demand for parking at Little France site has caused significant congestion

Permits for workers were suspended for the PFI hospital site last April, in line with Scottish Government guidance.

But frustration over demand for spaces escalated in recent months, after the easing of Covid restrictions meant the resumption of outpatient appointments and visiting hours.

Staff will get details next week on how to apply for permits.

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It follows reports from hospital workers and Unison that congested car parks cause delays of 45 minutes at busy times, with nose-to-tail traffic all the way from Sheriffhall roundabout to the campus.

The Evening News told this week of how staff felt they were being “forced out” of clogged car parks, with women doctors having come in five hours before their shift to secure a parking space and avoid walking off campus in the dark.

A Unison spokesperson said: “The permits will also be alongside a new car-share scheme. If there is a good take up it is believed this will have a positive impact.

“The suspension of permits at the start of the pandemic was the right decision and it worked very well until we came out of lock-down and the NHS started to re-mobilise. The return of visitors and out-patient services means that there are now car parks that must be ring-fenced for patients and visitors and this has tipped the balance into the congestion we now see.”

Lothian Buses were seen on site in recent weeks taking photos and talking to parking attendants as the company monitors the impact of delays on bus services. But the firm has insisted they have no plans to stop any services to the site, which now includes the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

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