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End of hospital car park charges

posted 5 Jan 2009, 06:50 by myEdinburgh Admin   [ updated 5 Jan 2009, 06:54 ]
Staff going back to work at Scotland's hospitals have been given a New Year bonus, following the abolition of car parking charges.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon marked the first business day since abolition with a visit to St John's Hospital in Livingston to see how the non-charging regime is being implemented.

She said:

"Unfair hospital car parking charges were in effect a tax on ill-health. It was clear to me that they had no place in a National Health Service that is free at the point of delivery.

"I'm proud that, by getting rid of car parking charges at our hospitals, the Scottish Government is helping to restore a principle of making healthcare equally accessible to all of us.

"But this is also a real practical help for families across Scotland. Abolishing charges eases the financial burden at a difficult time.

"Of course, busy hospital car parks must be properly managed to ensure the needs of patients, visitors and staff are balanced.

"Boards have submitted plans for addressing potential increases in demand, the promotion of greener transport and the possible misuse of spaces by commuters or others and we will continue to monitor these."

Although many hospital car parks in Scotland have never charged, as of Wednesday December 31 parking is now also free for patients, visitors and staff at the 14 hospitals where charges did apply. The only exceptions are three car parks operated under Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts at Ninewells, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Even here, Ms Sturgeon added, she expects health boards to do all they can to minimise the impact of charges:

"I have already made it quite clear that I would have liked to abolish charging at these three car parks too but, unfortunately, these three boards are locked into long-term contracts with PFI operators.

"I expect boards to work with PFI contractors to do all they can to limit or reduce charges for the remainder of these contracts."

The 14 hospitals affected by abolition are:

    * NHS Grampian - Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray's Hospital, Elgin
    * NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde - Gartnavel General Hospital and Gartnavel Royal Hospital (one car park for both), Southern General Hospital, Stobhill Hospital, Victoria Infirmary, Western Infirmary and Yorkhill Hospital
    * NHS Highland - Raigmore Hospital, Inverness
    * NHS Lothian - Lauriston Building, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, St John's Hospital and Western General Hospital.
    * NHS Tayside - Perth Royal Infirmary

The three PFI-built hospital car parks where charges still apply after December 31 2008 are the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

The abolition of charges follows last January's announcement where Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon capped hospital car parking charges at £3 per day at NHS-run car parks.

Source: The Scottish Government