Frontline workers at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary have ‘lost trust and confidence’ in NHS Lothian over controversial changes to its staff parking scheme, union bosses warned.
In a letter to NHS Lothian’s chief executive the Royal College of Nursing said workers ‘have been left in a position of vulnerability, fearing for their personal safety’.
It follows calls from scared nurses for increased safety measures at Sheriffhall Park and Ride, Dalkeith, Midlothian, after a parking permit scheme forced them to return to their vehicles alone late at night.
The scheme was reintroduced in January to tackle a shortage of spaces at the Little France campus.
But RCN called for a review of permit criteria to take account of long and unsocial hours.
The Union said parking changes have had a ‘massive negative impact on an already fragile morale’ and demanded answers on how decisions are made about allocating permits.
In the letter, also signed by the British Medical Association and Royal College of Midwives, RCN claims arrangements have been made for staff ‘not allowed to park at RIE’.
The RCN has put forward proposals in the letter, such as extending the chaperone service introduced on the hospital campus to the Park and Ride and increasing the frequency of the shuttle bus service at peak times.
The letter states: “Members are telling us they have lost trust and confidence in NHS Lothian.
“Many have been left in a position of vulnerability, fearing for their personal safety, when trying to make the journey to and from work, especially in the out of hours period.
“The parking changes have had a massive negative impact on an already fragile morale.
“We have heard concerns from members regarding the decision-making process for permit allocation and the arrangements that have been made for staff who are not permitted to park at the RIE campus.
“The current permit assessment criteria do not appear to value the role of clinical staff, with concerns being raised about the accessibility of information on the application process and the transparency of decision making.
“We also understand that over a thousand applications have still not been processed, meaning essential clinical staff have had to make alternative travel plans since the introduction of the changes last month.”
Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP Miles Briggs said: “For staff to have lost trust in the health board is very concerning.
“The permit system was clearly not properly thought through and it has taken significant pressure for NHS Lothian to make changes.
“The Royal College of Nurses have put forward sensible solutions to resolve the parking issues.”
NHS Lothian has made some changes to the parking scheme following a major outcry last month.
Car park access has been expanded to all staff arriving on site from 11.30am onwards on a trial basis.
Additional shuttle buses to Sheriffhall have also been added in the evening at 8.45pm and 9.15pm allowing staff who finish later to get safely back to their cars.
The health board was contacted for comment.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.