'Disappointing' delay in extra car parking spaces at new Sick Kids

The Scottish Government has criticised NHS Lothian over a delay in processing a much-needed application for an additional 290 car sparking spaces at a new hospital site.

Sunday, 15th December 2019, 5:10 pm
Health secretary Jeane Freeman, below right, is calling on the authority to explain why the application is still at the pre-planning stage after it was first raised nearly six months ago.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman, below right, is calling on the authority to explain why the application is still at the pre-planning stage after it was first raised nearly six months ago.

The proposed move to the new £150 million Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Sick Children and the Department for Clinical Neuroscience was shelved at the last minute in July amid safety concerns over the ventilation system within the critical care department.

A petition started in the spring by staff at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has received more than 23,000 signatures in support of better parking facilities for staff at the hospital. The petition was set up following the NHS Staff at the hospital being stripped of their annual parking permits.

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A government spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that NHS Lothian has not progressed this application more quickly, and the cabinet secretary will be expecting their plans to address this delay in the coming week.

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“The Scottish Government abolished car park fees at all NHS owned hospitals across Scotland in December 2008 – a move which has saved patients, visitors and staff more than £39m.

“We would like to be able to scrap car park charges at PFI car parks, but contractually we are unable to do so.”

There are three private finance initiative hospitals in Scotland including the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh which charges £7.20 per day for parking, Glasgow Royal Infirmary (£1.70 per hour) and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee (£2.40 per day).

These hospitals still charge staff to park and the estimated cost of reimbursing these staff is £2.7m a year.

In a letter to Tory MSP Miles Briggs, the Scottish health secretary confirmed that 290 additional parking spaces would be available at the site.

However, after checking with Edinburgh City Council, no application had been submitted to the council for additional parking spaces.

Briggs said: “Staff, patients and visitors are suffering whilst ministers and NHS Lothian are not getting their act together and sorting out parking at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

“There has been 12 years of total failure by SNP ministers to resolve ongoing parking problems at Little France and there is obviously a huge disconnect between ministers and NHS Lothian.

“This dysfunctional SNP government have yet again failed to get to grips with the problems for staff and patients have to park at Scottish hospitals.”

George Curley, director of facilities, NHS Lothian, said: “Once the required processes are complete, we would move to secure funding for additional parking.”