Forth Road Bridge Closure

Forth Road Bridge -

It has been confirmed that the Forth Road Bridge will remain closed until the new year.

NHS Lothian is monitoring and evaluating the impact the closure is having on our services and we are working with partners to understand and minimise the impact on patients, staff and service provision for the period ahead.

We will continue to work closely with our neighbouring health boards, the Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish Government, with a view to mitigating any potential disruption to our services.

Arrangements for emergency services to use the Forth Road Bridge have been agreed with Transport Scotland.

Blue light emergency vehicles, including emergency ambulances are being allowed across the Bridge for the duration of the closure.

In addition, priority patients are being allowed to cross the bridge in a Patient Transport Service (PTS) ambulance for treatment in Edinburgh. These are oncology patients who have gone through the Patient Needs Assessment (PNA) process and have been identified as having a clinical need for this level of assistance.

The Scottish Ambulance Service continues to work in partnership with NHS Boards to maintain patient transport services.

Non-emergency patients will continue to be transported to appointments using alternative routes and hospitals, as appropriate. These patients should allow for longer journey times.

The Patient Transport Service Team will contact patients where alternative arrangements have to be made. The Patient Transport Service Team can be contacted on 0300 123 1236.  (Charged at local rates from landlines and mobiles)

Please note that the Scottish Ambulance Service is continuing to take patients (or the person calling on behalf of a patient) through the Patient Needs Analysis process to ensure that the Patient Transport Service is made available to patients with mobility or clinical needs.

Patients are advised that NHS Lothian services are running as normal and those travelling into Lothian should allow extra time for their journey.

An NHS advice line has been set up for patients who need to travel into Edinburgh for hospital appointments. If you have any questions about travelling to your appointment please call 0800 028 2816.

For more information on the closure and transport options visit:

Transport Scotland:

Traffic Scotland:
Twitter: @trafficscotland

Forth Road Bridge:
Twitter: @forthroadbridge

Twitter: @scotrail





It is recognised that the closure of the Forth Road Bridge will bring with it travel issues for staff for the duration of the closure.  The current Adverse Weather and Major Transport Disruption Policy and the FAQ’s on HR Online provide advice for managers as to how to address the issues that may arise for staff and this policy should be used as the basis for discussions with staff.  This guidance note is to provide some additional advice to managers about how to manage the situation to ensure our services to patients can continue to be delivered with minimal disruption.


The key message is that this level of transport disruption is unprecedented and we expect managers to be as flexible and innovative as possible and to understand that for the first week or so staff may still be trying different routes and modes of transport to find the best fit.  Therefore some patience and understanding is required.  It is important that managers work with their staff to come up with the best solution during this period.


Flexible Working Policies

NHS Lothian has a range of flexible working policies that may be of some assistance in these circumstances.  In particular, the option of amending start and finish times could be considered so that staff are not travelling at peak times which will be busiest or to accommodate train times or car sharing with others.


Home Working

Home working may be considered where it is not essential for a member of staff to physically be at work. An assessment should be done as to whether the member of staff could reasonably carry out their role from home for the duration of the disruption.  Line managers need to be satisfied that this is appropriate and put in place appropriate arrangements for keeping in touch with the member of staff.  The current Home Working Policy should be followed and contact made with eHealth if advice is required regarding appropriate IT solutions.


Alternative Location – NHS Lothian

In some circumstances, it may be helpful for a member of staff to work at an alternative location in NHS Lothian if this makes it easier for transport during the period of the disruption.  Managers should make contact with the relevant manager on the alternative site to make the necessary arrangements and ensure that they have the facilities available to carry out their role.  Staff should ensure that they have the ID badge with them to gain access to the alternative location.


Alternative Location – Another NHS Board

Depending on home addresses, it may be easier for a member of staff to report to a site which is part of another NHS Board particularly if their role can be undertaken out-with their normal working environment.  If this is an option, the line manager should make contact with the relevant line manager in the other Board to make the necessary arrangements.


On Call

Where a member of staff is required to be on call during the period of the disruption, consideration needs to be given as to whether this will be possible given the significantly longer travel times that may be anticipated if they were to be called out.  A risk assessment should be undertaken by the manager to determine whether a longer response time to a call out request would be reasonable.  If this is determined to be a risk to the service, attempts should be made to try and swap the on call commitment with colleagues.  If this is not possible, the manager should look into the option as to whether hospital accommodation may be available for the duration of the on call period and only in exceptional circumstances and where NHS Lothian accommodation is not available will NHS Lothian consider paying for accommodation out-with the hospital environment for the duration of the on call period.


Special/Carers Leave

Given the sudden closure of the bridge, it may be that some staff were unable to attend work in the early days of the disruption as they required to sort out carer arrangements given the potentially longer time that they would be away from home due to the extended travel time.  In these instances and dependent on the circumstances, the current Special/Carers Leave policies are available for use.


Hours of Work

Despite the circumstances, staff will still be expected to make every effort to report for duty on time and remain on duty for the duration of their rostered period.  However, it should be recognised that due to the nature of the disruption, it may be very difficult for staff to arrive on time for every shift.  Whilst it would be expected that staff arriving late would then make up the duration of their shift by working later, this may not always be possible given the extended travelling time that staff are currently facing and dependent on family commitments.  Managers should discuss this with staff at the outset and make the appropriate arrangements for ensuring that staff work, where appropriate their contracted hours.


Excess Travel

For some staff alternative options such as home working or working from an alternative base or location may not be possible and the closure of the bridge may lead to additional costs for them in terms of travel.  It is recognised that the current situation of the closure of the Forth Road Bridge is unprecedented and on this basis only, NHS Lothian has agreed to meet the excess travel costs incurred by individual members of staff.  Where the claim is for additional mileage incurred, the reimbursement will be at the reserve rate and not the business mileage rate.


Only when all other options for travel and working arrangements have been explored will reimbursement of excess travel costs be considered.  In order to claim excess travel costs, a member of staff will be required to produce evidence of their normal daily travel expenditure and that of the new travel expenditure.  Evidence should include, where appropriate:


  • Journey mileage
  • Train or bus tickets (weekly tickets should be purchased where possible)
  • Parking tickets


Taxi costs will not be reimbursed.


All claims should be agreed in advance with the Service/General Manager and approved by the relevant Executive Director or Site Director for the Acute sites using a separate form which will be available on HR Online.  Such expenses should not be put through e-Expenses.


The position with the reimbursement of excess travel costs will be reviewed on Monday 11 January 2016.