More parking spaces at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is the ‘only cure’ for the congestion causing traffic chaos at the hospital, a union leader has warned.
Parking staff are facing abuse and threats from people who can’t get a space at the hospital – while buses are seeing delays of up to 45 minutes because of the queues.
Union chiefs said they have installed bodycams on traffic management staff at the hospital after they were verbally abused by furious visitors struggling to find a space.
Health bosses are hoping to bring in shuttle buses and a car-sharing scheme in a bid to combat the problem.
But Tracy Miller, Unison branch secretary at the hospital, and a member of the Infirmary’s Car Parking Group, said there needs to be an increase in car park capacity.
Demand for spaces has soared since the easing of Covid restrictions meant resumption of outpatient appointments and the return of visitors.
The site also now includes the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN).
Ms Miller said: “The fundamental problem is there are not enough car parking spaces and Edinburgh council will not allow us to build more because it goes against their green policy.
“We have 1280 staff car parking spaces on a site that has 6000 staff, not including the new Sick Children’s and DCN.
“This was an issue before they moved over.
“They manage to get 1800 permits out of 1280 spaces because of people working different shifts.
“They have maximised that as much as they can, but we need that again to accommodate everyone.
“The only cure is additional car parking spaces.”
She said parking management staff were getting abuse and being threatened when all the spaces were taken, and people had to be turned away.
She added: “I’ve witnessed it myself.
“Because someone can’t get in because the car park is full they’re verbally assaulted.
“A couple of them have been threatened with ‘We know where you stay’.
“We’ve had to put bodycams on our traffic management guys.
“Not being able to get a car parking space can bring out the very worst in people.
“These guys are coming to their work to do a job and I’m not saying they get it right all the time but they have a difficult job and being verbally abused is not acceptable.
“I’ve worked for the NHS for 38 years and it upsets me hugely that colleagues of mine would be so disrespectful to a fellow worker.
“It’s really disappointing.
“They don’t have an easy job.
“They don’t take pleasure in telling people ‘I’m really sorry but you can’t come in because it’s full’.”
Ms Miller said a temporary car park with 250 extra spaces was due to open before the end of the year.
She said: “That’s drop in the ocean.
“That will not solve the problem.
“The easy solution would be to allow the Royal to do what the council allowed at the Western when they put an extra storey on the existing car park.”
Council planning convener Neil Gardiner said permission had been granted in 2012 for an additional 316 spaces, increasing parking from 1712 spaces to 2028 spaces in anticipation of the new children’s hospital and DCN.
He said: “We haven’t refused any applications for additional permanent car parking at the ERI site.
“Any proposals would be considered against our current policies and guidance and our priority when considering parking is for sustainable travel with reduced reliance on cars, tying in with the Scottish Government’s planning and transport policy.”