PARKING charges are being axed at Scottish hospitals in case they act as a barrier to NHS staff getting to work in the coronavirus crisis.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced the three-month removal of fees, which kicks in from next Monday, to applause from MSPs.

It follows discussions between the Scottish Government and the three hospital car parks which levy charges under private finance initiative [PFI] deals.

There had been concerns that NHS workers were being penalised for driving to work while trying to avoid public transport for safety reasons

Glasgow Royal Infirmary charges up to £1.80 an hour, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary £7.20 a day and Ninewellls in Dundee £2.40.

Last week Nicola Sturgeon said she sympathised with the plight of health workers affected after the issue was raised by Lothians Tory MSP Miles Briggs.

She said: “The Health Secretary is looking urgently at how we can get rid of parking charges during this period from these [Private Finance Initiative] hospitals.

“Hopefully we can talk to the companies to ask them to suspend them. But if not, then the Scottish Government will want to look at what we can do to take away that cost from those who will be working so hard to keep the rest of us safe in the weeks and months to come.”

At a special Q&A session in the chamber on the response to the pandemic, Ms Freeman said: “We cannot have barriers to staff working in the NHS. Last week I said that I would act if I could to remove parking charges from those PFI car parks in our hospital settings.

“So from Monday the 30th of March, car parking charges will be removed from Ninewells hospital in Dundee, from Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for the next three months.”