Scots will no longer have to pay for car parking at hospitals, as the Scottish government moved to permanently scrap charges.
Holyrood has struck deals with £35 million to buy out the car parks at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and Glasgow Infirmary.
Negotiations are also “progressing” to take over the site at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, the BBC reported.
Charges at the hospitals were initially paused last March, to ensure staff would not have to pay for parking while battling the coronavirus pandemic – while fees at the rest of Scotland’s hospitals were scrapped in 2008.
‘Debt of gratitude’
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “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.
“This announcement shows we are determined to ensure car parking charges 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.”
Coining it in
Meanwhile, in England and Northern Ireland, NHS hospitals are still able to charge for car parking – although fees were lifted for staff at some hospitals during the pandemic.
Earlier this year, NHS England issued a directive to trusts telling them they must make parking free to some patients – as well as allowing staff working nights to park without charge.
According to NHS data, some hospitals make a significant amount of money from parking fees. Wirral University Teaching Hospital made around £1.6 million through parking charges and penalties in the year to March 2020 – just before the pandemic hit.
Of that, £991,613 was paid by patients and visitors – while £568,095 was brought in through charging staff to park.