Suspension of charges at three PFI hospitals continue until September.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has today announced an extension to free car parking at PFI hospital car parks in Scotland after successful talks with owners.
Staff, visitors and patients at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee will continue to access free car parking until the end of September 2020. This follows Ms Freeman’s announcement in March that parking charges at these hospitals would be suspended for an initial period of three months.
Ms Freeman said:
“I want to once again thank all our health and social care staff for their ongoing extraordinary efforts as we face this pandemic. Because of them, the NHS remains open. The staff of the NHS should not experience any unnecessary difficulties whilst they continue to go above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the end of March, I confirmed car park providers at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Ninewells Hospital HAD agreed to remove car parking charges for staff, visitors and patients for three months, and I’m pleased to announce this provision will be extended for a further three months until the end of September.
“Our health and safety are their top priorities, and so it’s important we remove any barriers that get in their way.”
Sandra White MSP said:
“I have been actively engaged on the issue of PFI Hospital Car Parks, and welcome the Scottish Government’s intervention to expand free parking to the three PFI holdouts.”
“Some years ago, the Scottish Government abolished parking charges at hospitals, however, sadly there are still several hospitals tied into long-term PFI contracts signed by the previous Labour-Liberal Administration.”
“This decision continues the suspension of PFI charges during these exceptional circumstances. Whilst this decision sacrifices vital public resources, due to a legacy of poor governance, it is the right decision to support our essential workers during the Coronavirus crisis.
This crisis has highlighted how important these essential public services are, and why they need to be available without restrictions for the public good.”
The Scottish Government abolished charges at NHS car parks in 2008, saving patients, visitors and staff more than £39 million since then. Despite wanting to, PFI contractual obligations prevent the Scottish Government from abolishing charges at three car parks at Scottish hospitals, and there is no contractual right to renegotiate or buyout the contract.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scottish Government has worked with providers to lift charges at these car parks, and these provisions will run until the end of September.
At the three PFI car parks, concessions are already available under certain circumstances such as for visitors of patients where attendance at the hospital relates to a case of extreme trauma or bereavement.