An MSP has attacked the “outrageous” abuse by drivers who are parking at the north’s main hospital without even visiting it.
Kate Forbes said they should be “ashamed of themselves.”
Ms Forbes revealed that NHS Highland hope to begin work over the new few months on a car park extension at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness that will create over 200 new spaces.
The information came from NHS Highland chief executive Elaine Mead, who was responding to the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP over continued concerns from Highlanders about the current parking provision at the hospital.
It is understood that NHS Highland are “testing the market at present” to see what car park barrier systems are available, and what the final costs will be for creating the extra car parking spaces. After that information is received, the health board will tender for the works.
Ms Forbes said: “I am pleased to hear that progress is being made on NHS Highland’s plans to expand the car park at Raigmore Hospital. It is well known that lack of parking is a major source of stress for patients and visitors.
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“At the end of the day, it is outrageous that people use Raigmore for parking when they are not using the hospital. They should be ashamed of themselves for their thoughtlessness and lack of concern for those who depend on parking to get to the hospital.
“People travelling from Lochaber, Skye or Badenoch cannot get to the hospital by public transport and therefore need a car.”
She added: “I wrote to the chief executive for an update on plans for extra parking spaces and installing a car park barrier system.
“I understand that NHS Highland are testing the market, before tendering for the works. These would then be completed as soon as possible, ideally early next year.
“I support all efforts to keep healthcare as close to home as possible so that people don’t have to travel. When they do, however, they need to be able to park easily.
“I fully support free parking at hospitals as I don’t think it’s fair to charge ill patients or strained visitors for the privilege of parking, but if some people are going to abuse that then there needs to be several hundred more spaces at Raigmore.”