Many staff have contacted me in recent weeks over the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh (RIE) staff parking situation.
During the early stages of the pandemic the Scottish Government came to an agreement with the PFI company which operates the car park which resulted in all staff being able to park for free. This was the right thing to do. Our front line NHS workers have been heroes and it was right that their journey to work was made as easy as possible. However despite commitments to buy the PFI company out – as has happened in Dundee and Glasgow – the car park still remains in private hands.
In recent weeks an increase in congestion in and around the RIE and a lack of parking spaces has resulted in NHS Lothian reimposing permits. Of the roughly 6,000 RIE staff roughly 1,000 will have a permit based on criteria like shift start time and home address. There is also a free park and ride facility being introduced with Lothian Buses at Shawfair. Whilst the park and ride is welcome there remain concerns that the strict permit criteria mean that staff are having their journey times significantly increased at a time where morale is low and work demands high. Further problems have been raised around the frequency of the shuttle buses and the poor lighting and safety concerns at the Shawfair park and ride. Of course there are issues for residents in Craigour and the Inch, with NHS staff parking in these estates.
I have written to the Scottish Government to ask them to step up efforts to purchase the car park and will be updating effected workers in due course.