Thousands sign nurse’s petition over staff parking permits

‘Prohibitive’ charges and permit restrictions at Edinburgh hospital ‘risk staff safety’

‘Prohibitive’ charges and permit restrictions at Edinburgh hospital ‘risk staff safety’

Picture: Alamy

More than 21,000 people have signed a nurse’s petition calling for better parking facilities and safety measures for staff at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, after the hospital changed its eligibility criteria for staff parking permits.

NHS Lothian recently reviewed its parking arrangements for the site and created a new parking permit allocation process for staff, which has left many without a permit.

New permits are allocated on a points system; those without one now have to pay £7.20 a day if spaces are available on site, or park elsewhere.

A new children’s hospital at the site, scheduled to open in July, is likely to increase demand for parking spaces. 

Charges are ‘prohibitive’

Nurse practitioner Emma Burns, who started the petition, writes that many staff who live outside the area have no option but to drive. The petition states that the increase in charges is prohibitive.

It also says that if staff have to find somewhere else to park it might leave them vulnerable to abuse, or vandalism of their car, citing two recent assaults on women in the local area. 

Ms Burns points out that many staff work 12.5-hour shifts and often three or four days in a row, and that any additional time or money spent on travel would leave staff fatigued and under-resourced.

The petition concludes: ‘We are asking for your support to sign our petition to ensure that as staff working within the NHS we are entitled to safe parking conditions at work.’

Privately-run parking

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh was built under a private finance initiative (PFI) arrangement. When parking charges were abolished at hospital sites across Scotland in 2008, they remained in place there because the car park was operated by a private contractor.

A neonatal nurse, who lives in a village 30 miles from the site, wrote on Facebook that she had paid £21 a month for a parking permit for the past decade, yet if she was eligible for a new permit the cost would quadruple to at least £86 per month.

She added that when her day shift ends at 8:30pm, buses to the nearest parking alternative, the Park and Ride at Shawfair, run only every 30 minutes.

Restricted by local regulations

NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said the new points system for staff parking permits is ‘fair and equitable’ and includes an appeals process.

‘We have a restricted number of car parking spaces allowed on our sites, which are governed by local authority planning regulations,’ Mr Crombie said.

‘In addition, our PFI providers are responsible for car parking charges, over which we have no control. We therefore need to balance the needs of our staff, patients and visitors to the site and we need to address concerns relating to patient safety, patient appointment delays and service delivery.’

Further information

The petition: Better parking and safety for staff at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

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