Councillor urges Scottish Government to address Ninewells car parking woes

An Indigo parking meter at Ninewells Hospital.

A Dundee councillor has has accused the Scottish Government of “washing its hands” over parking problems at Ninewells Hospital.

Outpatients and visitors to the hospital have complained about the high cost of parking at the hospital, unfair penalties and a lack of a spaces.

It is one of only three hospitals in the country which still has parking charges because of a private finance initiative the heath board has with parking company Indigo to run the car park on its behalf.

Under terms of the deal, NHS Tayside receives revenue from the operators each year.

A freedom of information request has revealed the amount paid to the health board doubled after 15 years of the contract — raising fears Indigo could increase charges to compensate.

Prices went up from £2.10 to £2.20 last November.

The sum received by NHS Tayside went from £90,224.91 in 2013/14 to more than £180,000 per year in subsequent years.

A spokeswoman for the health board said: “The terms of the contract agreed between NHS Tayside and the third party provider changed after 15 years.”

West End Liberal Democrat councillor Fraser Macpherson has now said that while the increase in revenue for the cash-strapped health board is welcome the Scottish Government must take action to address parking issues at the hospital.

The Scottish Government promised to abolish parking fees at hospitals following its election in 2007 but said it was too expensive to buy out PFI contracts at hospitals like Ninewells.

Mr Macpherson said: “I think the Scottish Government just basically washed their hands of the whole thing.

“It’s now time for a proper dialogue between the Scottish Government and NHS Tayside as the situation is far from satisfactory.

“There was a commitment by the current Scottish Government to abolish the charges right across Scotland but they failed to do that .

“Whilst the income for the NHS is welcome, other hospitals without charges did not lose income —  the shortfall was made up by the Scottish Government.

“Indigo themselves are obviously making a significant profit from the service they are providing but I have always had concerns about the situation.

“Parking charges continue to increase while I regularly receive complaints from visitors and outpatients due to the costs they face.”

Mr Macpherson added the car park is also unable to cope with demand for spaces at peak times.

“The other issue is capacity,” he said.

Ninewells has centralised a lot of services from places like Perth Royal Infirmary so some people have had to face 45 minute queues to get into the over-spill car park.

“Between the charges and capacity there is an impact on residential streets around the hospital.”

Mr Macpherson said Dundee City Council is introducing waiting time restrictions in Kinloch Park just to stop people parking their cars there when working at or visiting Ninewells.

Scottish Government health secretary Shona Robison: “The Scottish Government abolished car park fees at hospitals in December 2008 — a move which has saved patients, visitors and staff over £30 million.

“I would like to be able to scrap car park charges at Ninewells but unfortunately it is one of three car parks which are locked into long-term expensive PFI contracts which precede this government.

“I have previously raised concerns about apparent moves to increase these charges and called on the company involved to reconsider. Charging to park at hospitals places an unnecessary financial burden on families and those needing treatment.”