No deal on permanent free hospital parking for NHS staff

Scotland's health secretary has revealed that no deal has been struck between the government and the owners of three PFI hospital car parks to allow free NHS staff parking after September.

Jeane Freeman said no deal had been struck beyond September.
Jeane Freeman said no deal had been struck beyond September.

Jeane Freeman said that discussions were ongoing, but the current agreement for the Scottish Government to cover the costs of staff parking at Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Royal Infirmaries and Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital was due to end in two months.

She said she hoped the car park operators would do “what is right” rather than just focus on profits.

The government stepped in at the beginning of lockdown to provide free parking at the three hospitals to ensure that NHS staff working on the Covid frontline did not have to pay to take their car to work when public health advice was to avoid public transport.

The initial three-month suspension of charges was extended to the end of September, and last month Ms Freeman said the government was “actively pursuing a long term solution” but could not provide a "detailed update at this point.”

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The issue has hit the headlines today after the Prime Minister refused to keep English NHS workers’ free parking after the pandemic, saying he will push ahead with different plans to make it free for some staff and patients, but not all.

Normally, parking at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary can cost staff as much as £1,500 a year. Charges range from £1.40 per hour up to £7.20 for six hours and the goverment is paying almost £1 million a month for the three sites.

Today, asked at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing for an update on negotiations with the car parking companies, Ms Freeman said: “The NHS car parks with exception of three have been free for staff, patients and visitors since 2008, saving individuals a total of £41m.

“The free parking for staff at the three PFI hospitals that we introduced has been extended for a further three months til the end of September. We continue to have discussions with the operators of those car parks in the hope they will understand that doing what is right for staff, patients and visitors is important, not simply to continue to operate those car parks and consider their profit levels.

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“We will continue to have those discussions which have been positive in the main so far, to see what more we can do with the three PFI car parks out of all the NHS car parks which continue to charge, but right now no charges until the end of September.”

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