Negotiations are also progressing to take over the last remaining PFI car park in Scotland at Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, with an agreement expected to be reached in the coming months. Parking charges have been suspended at the three hospital PFI facilities since the start of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The agreements to take the car parks into public hands will mean this becomes permanent.
A pledge to take steps to end hospital parking charges permanently at PFI sites in Scotland during its first 100 days was highlighted by the SNP in the run-up to the Holyrood election in May. Car parking charges at all non-PFI hospitals in Scotland were scrapped in 2008, but the government said at the time it would cost too much to buy out the contracts of the PFI companies.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "I am delighted to announce that these facilities will come into public hands and help phase out the legacy of PFI in hospital car parks in Scotland.”
He added: "There are no car parking changes in place at any hospitals after this Scottish Government secured an arrangement to suspend these at the three PFI sites at the start of the pandemic. Charges at other NHS car parks had already been abolished by this Government.
"Talks are progressing well with the owners of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh site and I am hopeful of reaching an agreement in due course. As this progresses we will be keeping the car park at the hospital free while the final agreement is reached."
The Scottish Government has provided the funding for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to complete the buyout of the PFI car park contract at Glasgow Royal Infirmary for £26.3 million, taking over the facility. A similar arrangement has been reached for NHS Tayside to buyout of the PFI car park contract at Ninewells in Dundee for £9m.
NHS Tayside director of facilities John Paterson said: "We know that the suspension of car parking charges at Ninewells Hospital has benefited patients, staff and visitors alike and it has made a real difference to those who have come on to our site since March 2020.
"Today's announcement of the permanent removal of parking charges at Ninewells is welcome news for everyone."
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of facilities and estates, Tom Steele said: “It has been an aim of NHSGGC for some time that our staff can come to work and not be charged to use the parking facilities, so I am really pleased that this work has now concluded and we are able to offer free parking to all staff working at each of our hospitals as well as patients who will be attending to receive treatment and their loved ones who visit them.”
NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said: “We look forward to the completion of negotiations with our PFI provider to end parking charges on our sites permanently and are grateful for the funding that enables staff and patients to continue to park free of charge in the meantime."