The Scottish Government said on Tuesday that hospital parking charges are set to end permanently in Scotland after agreements were reached to buy out two car parks in Glasgow and Dundee operated through PFI (private finance initiative) schemes.
It said negotiations are also progressing to take over the last remaining PFI car park in Scotland at Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, with an agreement expected to be reached in the coming months.
Parking charges have been suspended at the three hospital PFI facilities since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The agreements to take the car parks into public hands will mean this becomes permanent.
The new Scottish Government had pledged to take steps to end hospital parking charges permanently at PFI sites in Scotland during its first 100 days.
The Scottish Government said it has provided the funding for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to complete the buyout of the PFI car park contract at Glasgow Royal Infirmary for £26.3 million, taking over the facility.
A similar arrangement has been reached for NHS Tayside to buyout of the PFI car park contract at Ninewells in Dundee for £9 million.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I am delighted to announce that these facilities will come into public hands and help phase out the legacy of PFI in hospital car parks in Scotland.
“We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to our NHS workforce for their heroic efforts throughout the pandemic and this will ensure that, along with patients and visitors using our hospitals, they will not face the prospect of parking charges returning.
“There are no car parking changes in place at any hospitals after this Scottish Government secured an arrangement to suspend these at the three PFI sites at the start of the pandemic.
“Charges at other NHS car parks had already been abolished by this Government.
“This announcement shows we are determined to ensure they will not return at any PFI site in Scotland. Talks are progressing well with the owners of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh site and I am hopeful of reaching an agreement in due course.
“As this progresses we will be keeping the car park at the hospital free while the final agreement is reached.”
NHS Tayside director of facilities John Paterson said: “We know that the suspension of car parking charges at Ninewells Hospital has benefited patients, staff and visitors alike and it has made a real difference to those who have come on to our site since March 2020.
“Today’s announcement of the permanent removal of parking charges at Ninewells is welcome news for everyone.
“We have worked closely with Scottish Government and car park operators Saba UK to achieve this and we are continuing to work with Saba UK to ensure car parks are managed effectively, enabling patients, staff and visitors to park safely at the hospital.“
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of facilities and estates Tom Steele said: “We have been working closely with Scottish Government colleagues to remove parking charges for staff, patients and visitors from all of our hospital sites.
“It has been an aim of NHSGGC for some time that our staff can come to work and not be charged to use the parking facilities, so I am really pleased that this work has now concluded and we are able to offer free parking to all staff working at each of our hospitals as well as patients who will be attending to receive treatment and their loved ones who visit them.”
NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie said: “We look forward to the completion of negotiations with our PFI provider to end parking charges on our sites permanently and are grateful for the funding that enables staff and patients to continue to park free of charge in the meantime.”