Call To Refund NHS Workers' Hospital Parking Costs

30 December 2018, 11:14 | Updated: 30 December 2018, 12:37

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

NHS staff in Scotland should be refunded the cost of parking at hospitals, according to the Scottish Conservatives.

Three major hospitals - Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Glasgow's Royal Infirmary - still charge for parking, despite the practice being scrapped in 2008.

Staff and visitors are still required to pay as the hospitals are locked into Private Finance Initiative arrangements.

The scheme was set up by the Conservative government in the 1990s and allowed hospitals, schools and prisons to be built by private contractors before being rented back to the public sector.

Any money that remained following construction of the buildings, as well as "rent" money, could then be kept by the contractor.

Nurses at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary launched a petition earlier this month after the parking tarriff per hour was increased to £1.70.

Staff estimated the rise could cost them around £20 each day they attend work.

Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs has suggested the cost of remunerating hospital workers would be "at most" £2.7 million a year.

Mr Briggs urged the Scottish Government to examine whether such a scheme would be feasible.

"This would be the kind of gesture that would be affordable thanks to Barnett Consequentials, and show NHS staff that they are valued by government and the taxpayer," said Mr Briggs.

"It would also make a practical improvement to the working lives of NHS staff, many of whom work long and awkward hours at these hospitals.

"The SNP government previously pledged to make parking free at hospitals across the country.

"Just because PFI deals exist at three major hospitals doesn't mean ministers can't do something to make up the costs.

"We need to see action to end the unfair costs NHS staff in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee face.

"We also want to see a national review of hospital parking more generally, something SNP ministers have rejected but is needed if the experience of workers, patients and visitors is anything to go by."