THOUSANDS of nurses have signed a petition calling for parking charges at a Glasgow
hospital to be capped.

Fees at the city's Royal Infimary are the highest in the country at any NHS hospital.

The owners of the car park announced last month that overnight charges are being increased by 10p, from £1.50 to £1.60 per hour. The daily rate is £1.70 per hour from 8am to 6pm. 

Charging for parking at NHS car parks in Scotland was scrapped in 2008 but staff working at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and the GRI require staff and visitors to pay. This is because they are the result of long-term private finance initiative (PFI) projects.

The Scottish government says it wants the charges "abolished".

The situation is worst at Glasgow Royal Infirmary because charges are not capped unlike Ninewells and Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary, where parking is topped at £2.40 a day in a long-stay car park, and at £7.20 per day respectively.

Nurse Shelley McCahon, who started the online petition, wrote: "I am aware that we are not likely to get free parking, therefore I wish to campaign for a standard £5 flat rate, to ensure parking is safe and affordable for all."

Anne Thomson, a senior officer for the Royal College of Nursing Scotland has called for the Scottish government to intervene.

She said: "It seems unfair that staff at Glasgow Royal infirmary are still having to pay so much for car parking on this site, when NHS staff in most of the rest of Scotland don't face such high charges.

"But as this car park operates under a long-standing PFI agreement, the decision on the situation rests with Scottish government.

"Perhaps it's time this was reviewed so that staff who use this site, particularly those staff who work night shifts and need to park at the hospital for their own safety so have no choice but to drive, are not forced to pay more just to come to work."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We agree that charging to park at hospitals puts an unnecessary financial burden on NHS staff as wells as patients and their families

"The Scottish government has made it clear repeatedly that we would like charges abolished at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary car park - as we have done in NHS owned hospitals across Scotland - but unfortunately it is one of three car parks locked into long-term PFI contracts which precede this government.

"Health boards are expected to work with their PFI contractors to ensure any charges are kept to a minimum and ensure that PFI contracts are kept under review to ensure best value for the public purse."

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board spokesman said: "The purpose-built multi-storey car park at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI) is a PFI project owned by a private company and managed by Apcoa).

"As the car park is privately owned we do not have any control over the tariffs the private company chooses to charge."

Apcoa said it was the car park manager but not the owner, and it did not have any control over fee levels. The owners of the car park declined to comment.