NHS Grampian has been urged to take action so staff can continue parking on-site at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
During the pandemic, medical staff were temporarily allowed to park in the top three floors of the Lady Wood multi-storey car park.
But the original planning consent for the car park stated it was only for patients and visitors to Foresterhill Health Campus.
Now, Unison has launched a petition urging NHS Grampian to request a change of planning permission allowing staff to continue parking there.
It comes after Unison conducted a survey after hearing rumours the staff car parking would be revoked once again.
There were 700 responses to the survey, which Unison has fed back to NHS Grampian to show there will be “massive implications” on staff.
Permit system in place not enough
While permits are available to a limited number of staff, spaces aren’t guaranteed.
Additionally, staff using nearby streets to park has become a bone of contention with neighbours.
The NHS has now started its own survey of staff looking at the parking permit system.
However, Unison regional organiser Simon Watson says it is not enough to change the permit system and doesn’t solve the problem of a lack of spaces on site.
He said: “It’s ignoring the fact that there aren’t enough spaces on site, so there’s going to be a huge number of staff affected by this.
“Maybe changing the parking permit system might help a very small number of people, but it won’t solve the overall issue – there is just not enough space on site for people to get parked.”
Worries about standards of care dropping
Mr Watson highlighted that if the parking spaces are revoked, hundreds of members of staff will need to find different ways to get to work – whether that is parking on a nearby street or getting buses to work.
Additionally, for those who start later in the day, the car parking spaces may have already been used by staff on earlier shifts.
He claimed the additional time spent trying to find ways to get to work may mean staff, who often work 12 hour shifts, may be there two hours earlier.
They may even need to take different buses just to get to work as ARI is only on the route of two services and added that buses are unreliable due to driver shortages.
He said: “A lot of people who live outside Aberdeen work there, but even for people living in Aberdeen, for example, if you’re coming from Bridge of Don, you have to go into the centre of town and then change buses.
“What are they going to do about their kids and other caring responsibilities, or you might have women walking in the dark half a mile down the road in the middle of winter to get to where they parked their car.
“If staff can’t get to work, then it affects the standard of care being provided, which means it affects patients in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and further afield as well.”
NHS Grampian: ‘We know car parking is an important issue’
The NHS Grampian survey is still running and staff are allowed to park on floor six and above.
However, the floors are not for staff only, meaning patients and visitors can still park on the levels.
A spokeswoman for the health board stressed staff being allowed to park in the multi-storey is a continuation of a “temporary” measure brought in during the pandemic to reduce the use of public transport and car sharing.
She added: “We know car parking at Foresterhill is an important issue for staff. We are currently running a survey, asking people who work on the site for their views on options to manage staff car parking in the future.
“Once this closes, we will carefully consider all the submissions before making a decision on the next steps.”