A delay in introducing temporary free parking for staff and visitors to Ninewells Hospital is unjustified amid the public health crisis, it has been claimed.
Parking at the Dundee complex, Tayside’s biggest, will be free from Monday March 30, the Scottish Government announced.
Ninewells is one of only three Scottish hospitals where parking is ticketed with the facility run by private company SABA.
Despite being welcomed, questions have been raised about why the measures cannot be put in place immediately.
North East Scotland Labour MSP Jenna Marra said: “It’s good news, however, I don’t know why there has to be a delay.
“I’m calling on SABA to make this immediate and cease all parking charges from today.
“It’s not just about the charges for workers that are putting themselves on the frontline, it’s also about hygiene and use of the machines.”
North East region Scottish Conservative MSP Bill Bowman also called for the charges to be dropped without delay.
He said: “The Scottish Government, NHS Tayside and Saba have responded to public pressure and got around the table.
“I believe this gesture will boost morale among our hard-working hospital staff.
“Hopes were high that this measure would be in place tomorrow. So it is disappointing that NHS employees will have to wait almost a week.
“The cabinet secretary said the arrangement will last three months. It must be extended at that point, if the need is still there.”
The delay in implementing the fee waiver will mean all those using the facility will continue to pay a rate of £2.40 per day.
It comes as extra NHS staff are drafted in and the hospital is putting in place measures to deal with an influx of coronavirus cases.
NHS Tayside welcomed the decision by SABA and said the two organisations are now looking at how the arrangement will work in practice.
Once finalised, the details will be shared with staff and the public.
The deal was announced by health secretary Jeane Freeman after increasing public pressure.
She said there cannot be “barriers” to staff working in the country’s health care system.
Former health secretary and current Dundee City East MSP Shona Robison said: “This will be good news for the hundreds of NHS workers, who have been working round the clock in response to the current situation and who we all owe a huge debt of gratitude.”
Bosses at NHS Tayside, the Scottish Government, and the car park’s private operators SABA, had reportedly been engaged in lengthy discussions prior to the announcement.
SABA have a contract to run the facility until 2028 but the deal has been much-maligned and described as a tax on the sick by many.
The two central belt hospitals will also be free for the same period.
Charges at other NHS car parks in Scotland were scrapped 12 years ago.