Visitors to four Glasgow hospital sites are being reminded that new car parking arrangements come into being this Sunday. From Sunday, there will be a number of changes in the car parks at the Western Infirmary, the Yorkhill Hospitals, the Victoria Infirmary and Gartnavel General Hospital (including the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre and the Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital).
A sliding scale of charges will now be payable by staff, patients and visitors at these four hospital sites, as part of a package of improvements to the facilities. The implementation of the new car parking policy follows a widespread review of the scheme, after specific concerns were raised regarding the level of the charges. A number of improvements have been made to the original proposals, including pegging the maximum daily charge for members of the public at £7, introducing a sliding scale for staff and increasing the number of patients and visitors who will park entirely free of charge.
Members of the public visiting any of the four acute hospital sites from Sunday will now pay according to a sliding scale of charges:
* More than 5 hours £7.
* 4-5 hours £4
* 3-4 hours £2.50
* 2-3 hours £1.50
* 0-2 hours £1
The package of parking changes also includes extensive improvements in provision for disabled drivers. From Sunday there will be dedicated free spaces created on all four sites (and the other sites in later phases) for disabled parking and disabled badge holders may park free in any public car park space on any site.
Sunday's introduction has had strong support from disabled support groups. Mr John Thompson from the Murray Foundation supports the action taken to make parking in hospital for those with disabilities hassle free.
Mr Thompson said: "I have been campaigning on various Health Board Committees on behalf of the disabled community for better access and better parking facilities in and around hospitals and I see this as a huge step forward. I'm very pleased that finally we're going to see proper provision for disabled drivers and proper policing of the spaces that are there.
"Having been an amputee myself for 50 years and working with the Murray Foundation amputee support group for the past 10 years, I have personally experienced the abuse and misuse of our disabled spaces.
"I am delighted to hear that the new policy will increase the number of disabled bays closest to the entrances but more importantly that they will be "policed" at all times. Managing the spaces and making sure only disabled drivers can park in disabled spaces is an enormous step forward.
"On behalf of the Murray Foundation and all the disabled community, thank you for these much needed improvements."
Among the range of other improvements that accompany charges is a provision for low-income drivers to park for free. Frequently attending visitors for longer stay patients and children younger than 16 will be eligible for concessionary charges. The penalty for inappropriate parking will be £40 (which will be reduced to £20 if paid within two weeks)
Arrangements for staff are based on an employee's need to access a car to do his or her job, and the frequency of the journeys made. Those whose job is totally dependent on having access to a car (e.g. community midwives) will qualify for free parking.
The remaining eligible staff with permits will pay the following charges:
* Staff earning more than £30k will pay £40 per month (£2 per day).
* Staff earning between £10k and £30k will pay £25 per month (around £1.25 per day)
* Staff earning less than £10k will pay £5 a month (around 25p per day)
Tom Divers, Chief Executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "We must all remember why car parking charges are being introduced to our busiest hospital sites. Some of our sites are log jammed with commuters taking advantage of free hospital parking, resulting in patients and visitors, especially the disabled, struggling to find spaces. On other sites there is simply so much congestion and lack of managed parking regimes that the car parks simply do not serve the needs of patients, visitors and staff.
"It is also a national policy, and one adopted and supported by the NHS, to support and promote environmentally friendly transport initiatives which reduce reliance on cars.
The policy, which was developed following lengthy public consultation and debate in 2005, will be rolled out to Gartnavel Royal Hospital in a few weeks, then to the Southern General and Stobhill hospital sites in November and the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley the following month. The final phase of implementation will see charges introduced at Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock and Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria in early 2008.