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Hospital staff parking permit a ‘slap in the face’ for nurses

Staff highlight safety issues and difficult, longer journeys for those not eligible for permit, which will be reintroduced at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

Staff highlight safety issues and difficult, longer journeys for those not eligible for permit, which will be reintroduced at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

Nurses claim a decision to reintroduce staff parking permits at one of Scotland’s leading hospitals will leave many unable to park, leading to long and unsafe journeys to work.

The free staff permit system was in place at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) before the pandemic, but was suspended in light of the crisis to allow more people, including agency staff, to access the car park.

Nurses must meet criteria to obtain permit

Under the scheme, permits are allocated on a points-based

Staff highlight safety issues and difficult, longer journeys for those not eligible for permit, which will be reintroduced at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

A section of the car park at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. Picture: Alamy

Nurses claim a decision to reintroduce staff parking permits at one of Scotland’s leading hospitals will leave many unable to park, leading to long and unsafe journeys to work.

The free staff permit system was in place at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) before the pandemic, but was suspended in light of the crisis to allow more people, including agency staff, to access the car park.

Nurses must meet criteria to obtain permit

Under the scheme, permits are allocated on a points-based system. This takes into account factors such as job role and whether someone may need to travel at short notice, work at more than site or has personal caring responsibilities. Bank and agency staff are not eligible to apply for a free permit.

From 17 January the scheme will be reintroduced, with staff unable to park at RIE without a permit. However, the move has been criticised by nurses who claim it will make getting to work more difficult and create unsafe journeys at night.

Nurse highlights lack of public transport after late shift

One emergency nurse practitioner told Nursing Standard there was no public transport options for her to get home after a late shift. She said the criteria for the permits did not include staff who are unable to use public transport after late finishes, and that nurse practitioners and junior emergency department doctors had been refused permits.

‘Many are thinking very seriously about handing their notice in,’ she added. ‘Among the practicalities it is also extremely unsettling and disheartening to see that the [hospital] board appears to have such little care for staff safety and well-being.’

Health board says demand outstrips the number of parking spaces

A spokesperson for NHS Lothian, the health board that runs the hospital, said parking capacity was ‘not sufficient’ to meet demand from staff, patients and visitors, and spaces would be ‘prioritised’ for some NHS Lothian contracted staff.

The health board said staff unable to obtain a permit could park at Sherriffhall Park and Ride in Edinburgh and take a free, regular staff shuttle bus service to the hospital. NHS Lothian is also developing a car-share scheme for when COVID-19 guidance allows car-sharing to resume.

Online petition aims to stop permit scheme

As of 13 January more than 22,240 people, including nurses, had signed an online petition calling on hospital managers to re-consider the decision.

One person who signed the petition described the scheme’s reintroduction as a ‘slap in the face’ for staff, while another said ‘we should, at the very least, be able to get to and from our workplace safely’.

Access for emergency service vehicles is paramount, says health board

NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said demand for parking at the hospital site was an ongoing issue.

‘It can result in delays to people accessing the site and cause serious issues for our blue light services, which must be able to travel through the hospital site at all times’, he said.

‘We have engaged with staff and union partners about measures to support staff with transport and make the site more accessible. Our plans to reintroduce the permit scheme were also widely communicated to staff.’


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