Hospital staff and patients in Scotland have saved more than £13m since the decision to stop charging for parking in most NHS car parks just over four years ago.
Ever since the last day of 2008, workers, patients and visitors have not paid a penny to park at the majority of hospitals, as opposed to the £3 they were being charged before the move.
Three car parks north of the border continue to charge for parking as they are run by the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) - Ninewells, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
The cessation of parking charges part of Scotland’s bid to stick to the not-for-profit principles of the NHS in providing free services for all users, according to health secretary Alex Neil. Charges were abolished at the following hospitals:
::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
Mr Neil said he was happy to hear that scrapping the charges had saved people so much money as it was “an unneeded financial burden on families and those needing treatment at a difficult time”. He said he would like to see free car parking at all hospitals in Scotland but long-term deals with contractors meant that it was not yet possible.
He said the government would be seeking new funding models to stop companies in the private sector profiting from hospital parking and praised boards’ efforts to cope with increased demand, develop more environmentally-friendly means of transport for patients and stop commuters parking in spaces badly needed by NHS staff, hospital patients and visitors.
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