Parking at Hospital

It’s not uncommon for people to be find moaning about car parking charges and fixed penalty notices issued as a result of overstaying their allotted time or what ever the reason may be. However, it is very alarming when this moaning refers to car parking charges at hospital car parks.

The Scottish Government recently placed a cap of £3 on parking at hospitals (which has reduced it from the £12 it used to be). However, it is still ridiculous that in 2008 we are having to park at Hospital car parks. I’m not aware of people who use the car parking at hospitals for any reason other than that they are attending the hospital for what ever reason: whether that be as an employee, patient or visitor.

£3 a day doesn’t sound too much, but for staff who are parking at the hospital regularly it is a huge expense – over £700 a year (especially the lower paid NHS staff without whom the NHS would simply not function).

In the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde region it has been reported that staff, instead of paying the parking charges, are parking away from the hospital and then walking to the main hospital. This, obviously, causes concern for their personal safety. This increase in the number of cars parking on the street is also causing problems for local businesses, whose customers find it difficult to park. It’s also been reported that it is causing problems for the Emergency Services who are struggling to navigate the already narrow and congested streets, now they are finding it even more difficult and frustrating to get to those who need their help or get those in need of emergency medical treatment to Accident and Emergency.

There has been serious public protest over the hospital parking charges and the Health Secretary and Depute First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, conducted a review that led to this capping at £3. However, this has done nothing to solve the problems identified (with the policy having come into effect in February 2008).

These Car parks are often built under PFI/PPP and managed by private companies on behalf of the NHS. Nicola Sturgeon claims that the money received from car parking is being put back into the NHS. Some of it may (and if it is this raises the question as to whether the NHS is free at the point of delivery), but I am not convinced that it all is. These private companies will not be managing these car parks for free and are probably either taking their cut of the parking charges or the tax payer will be paying them a set fee for managing the car parks.

There is a permit system for staff. However, either the staff or the NHS board have to pay for these permits and more are issued for the number of reserved spaces, so the spaces are not always available. It’s also quite probable that these permits will be going to hospital management, rather than the clinical staff who are there to do a job that most are already undervalued for doing.

I heard a student nurse speak about this issue and she said that while on placement she had noticed the car parks being rather empty as staff are not parking in them. So, if with staff not parking in them and there being plenty of space left is there really any need to have such charges?