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Exclusive: Edinburgh nurse warns hospital risks losing staff over 'unfair' parking

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A campaigning nurse at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has said staff are considering quitting the health profession over the hospital’s “unfair” parking regime.

Neonatal nurse practitioner Emma Burns has started a petition against the hospital’s new permit allocation process, which she claimed was putting staff at risk and leaving them out of pocket.

“This additional time added on to already long shifts will result in fatigue and exhaustion”

Emma Burns 

At the time of writing, the petition had gained more than 22,000 signatures.

In an exclusive interview with Nursing Times, Ms Burns said: “Many staff are considering the possibility of moving to another hospital for work and many are considering if their role within health care is the career for them.”

NHS Lothian, which runs the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, reviewed parking provision ahead of the opening of a new children’s hospital on the same site later this year.

The move will mean there will not be enough spaces for all staff, so bosses decided to introduce a new “points-based” permit allocation system.

Ms Burns, who has worked at the hospital for two decades, said “numerous” colleagues have had their permit revoked and she felt strongly that action needed to be taken.

emma burns

emma burns

Source: Emma Burns

Emma Burns

The permit fee of £25 per month is deducted from the monthly wages of staff.

However, those without a permit now face paying £7.20 per shift if they can find a space on site, or find somewhere else to park nearby.

“I don’t think it is a fair system,” Ms Burns told Nursing Times. 

She said many staff had no option but to drive to work because the hospital was outside the town centre and “there really isn’t the luxury or regular public transport options”.

The nurse said parking was a safety issue for staff, especially those leaving the hospital late at night.

She warned that parking off site left people vulnerable to “abuse or worse” and could also spark conflict with neighbouring residents.

Many staff worked 12.5-hour shifts three or four days straight and the extra time added for public transport could lead to burn-out, cautioned Ms Burns.

“This additional time added on to already long shifts will result in fatigue and exhaustion, potentially cause people to be off sick and then the clinical areas become short staffed and this then impacts on the health and wellbeing of the whole department,” she told Nursing Times.

Ms Burn said it was her view that parking should be free for staff working 12.5-hour shifts and those who did have to pay should be supported with an increase in income.

“We have a restricted number of car parking spaces”

Jim Crombie

Her petition, launched on 21 April, will be submitted to the Scottish government.

Ms Burns said she had been “absolutely blown away” by the level of support it had received.

“With the comments and the number of signatures it’s nice to see we have the support of the general public,” she added.

Jim Crombie, deputy chief executive of NHS Lothian, said the new parking system was “fair and equitable” to all staff.

“Like many hospital sites across Scotland, we experience demand and capacity issues relating to parking on our sites,” he said.

He added: “We have a restricted number of car parking spaces to comply with local authority planning regulations.

“We, therefore, must balance the needs of our staff, patients and visitors to the site and take account of increasing demand,” Mr Crombie noted.

He said there was an appeal process for any staff members unhappy with their permit decision and pledged to keep the new system under review.

  • Ms Burns’ petition can be viewed here
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