An NHS volunteer has called for staff at the north’s busiest hospital to be given free bus travel to ease parking problems.
The tonic for the current chaos at the Raigmore complex has been put forward by Bill Boyd.
He believes it could make a massive difference to the number of vehicles using the car park.
Raigmore experiences a serious shortage of spaces most days of the week, leaving many patients and elderly relatives walking a considerable distance to the hospital’s wards.
Mr Boyd, who is also chairman of Ballifeary Community Council, regularly travels back and forth between the hospital and his home on the other side of the city, and admits that he often needs to use his car.
However, he also sings the praises of the convenience of local bus routes.
He said: “The numbers 4, 8 and other services are excellent. They’re frequent and comfortable and they drop visitors close to the main entrance.
“I often see people struggling to find a place to park, some a long way from the entrance.
“Provision of additional parking spaces would only encourage more visitors to drive, making the problem worse.”
Mr Boyd believes his solution would help ease the gridlock and make it easier for hospital visitors.
“We could support the bus company to make a good service even better, if necessary doubling the frequency.”
He suggests free travel on presentation of NHS identity cards and that reclaiming sections of the expansive car park could also make space for additional bus stops, taxi ranks and emergency vehicles.
Another option is to create a small, residual pay-on-exit public car park, the income from which could be used for further development of public transport.
Another community council leader who also works at Raigmore – Smithton and Culloden chairman David McGrath who works with the citizens advice bureau – welcomed the free travel suggestion as a parking solution.
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach said: “We recently introduced improved links to the hospital with eight buses an hour now operating between Inverness city centre and Raigmore.
“However, we would be happy to look at further ways to work with NHS Highland to encourage staff to travel to work by bus.”