Ambulances delayed ‘due to queues of cars outside hospital’

A health chief warned that congestion outside the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 'can't be sustained'.

Ambulances delayed ‘due to queues of cars outside hospital’ versevend via iStock
Queues: Cars waiting for parking spots causing ambulance delays.

Ambulances are being delayed by queues of cars trying to park outside the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, a health chief has warned.

Jim Crombie, deputy chief executive of NHS Lothian, said congestion outside the major hospital “can’t be sustained” and would cause delays for patients, staff and visitors.

Mr Crombie, who is also chair of NHS Lothian parking group, confirmed staff permits will be reintroduced on January 17.

He said the decision to reintroduce staff permits – which were suspended last April – had “not been taken lightly”.

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But frustration over demand for spaces escalated in recent months after the easing of Covid restrictions meant the resumption of outpatient appointments and visiting hours.

Hospital workers and Unison claim congested car parks caused delays of 45 minutes at busy times, with nose-to-tail traffic all the way from Sheriffhall roundabout to the campus.

Staff claimed felt they were being “forced out” of clogged car parks, with women doctors having come in five hours before their shift to secure a parking space and avoid walking off campus in the dark.

It is one of the few hospitals where staff have to pay for parking due to being built with private finance initiative.

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A Unison spokesperson said: “The permits will also be alongside a new car-share scheme.

“If there is a good take up it is believed this will have a positive impact.

“The suspension of permits at the start of the pandemic was the right decision and it worked very well until we came out of lockdown and the NHS started to re-mobilise.

“The return of visitors and out-patient services means that there are now car parks that must be ring-fenced for patients and visitors and this has tipped the balance into the congestion we now see.”