Scottish Government health officials met NHS Lothian yesterday. The board takes the matter seriously and has taken steps to manage availability of spaces and to provide alternatives to on-site parking, along with alternative forms of transport. The board remains committed to on-going engagement with patients, staff, visitors and neighbours to understand and address parking-related issues.
Hundreds of patients, staff and local residents have contacted me about the parking chaos in and around St John’s hospital. I have invited NHS Lothian officials to attend a public meeting so that they can hear ideas from patients, staff and residents about how the problems can be resolved. So far, they have refused to attend such a meeting, but surely NHS Lothian has to be accountable for its actions. Will the minister instruct officials to come to a public meeting in Livingston to hear ideas from patients and those who use the area in and around the hospital on how we can resolve the problems?
Sixty-six per cent of the parking spaces are available to staff. The board has reconfigured some of the spaces to increase the number that are available to patients to ensure that they are not late for appointments, and has received positive feedback about that. The board advises me that it has received a very small number of complaints—two to four—from neighbours, which have been dealt with directly.
The board engages with staff through the local partnership forum, which is a successful way for our national health service to engage with staff across an entire health board or in a particular site and to reach shared solutions on different matters. The board continues to engage with staff through the partnership forum as it looks to plan the new elective centre, which will be based at St John’s hospital.
It is not for me to instruct the board on that matter; it is for me to make clear to this board and others that I expect them to engage effectively and continuously with their local communities, neighbours, staff, patients and others.
The board has done some work to ensure that there is a corporate discount scheme for local transport and it has taken on a number of suggestions that it has received from patients and staff through the work that it has undertaken. Mr Findlay might feel that that is inadequate, but it is not for me to instruct the board as to how it undertakes such matters—criticism would come my way if I were to do that, probably from members on the Labour benches. Rather, it is for me to ensure that the board engages constructively, which I will continue to ensure that it does.