HEALTH chiefs have renewed a plea to selfish drivers to stop blocking access to Raigmore Hospital by unlawful parking on pavements within the complex.
Scores of vehicles abandoned on walkways close to the main building have regularly left an arterial route dangerously narrow.
Offenders have had yellow stickers plastered to their vehicle windows by hospital security staff.
The parking chaos follows revelations that some drivers use the hospital car park as a free long-stay facility for going shopping – or even foreign holiday trips – with reports from city taxi drivers that motorists have turned to Raigmore rather than pay for airport parking at Dalcross.
Daily car park congestion has been exacerbated by construction work at the hospital.
An area near the main block is currently cordoned off as part of a £28 million critical care upgrade project – the biggest single investment the hospital has had since it was built.
The new facility will incorporate all critical care services including the acute medical assessment unit, intensive care unit, surgical high dependency unit and cardiology and theatre suite over two floors.
A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said: "We know that, for some, coming into a hospital environment can be a stressful experience.
"A busy car park can add to that but we have examples of cars being blocked in, access roads being blocked and the disabled bays at the front of the car park being used by those who don’t have blue badges displayed on their car.
"We’d ask that everyone takes responsibility for how they use our car park. Leave enough time to find a space.
"And if you’re coming in for an appointment, please don’t block cars in or block any of our access roads and please be considerate of others when driving round and parking on our site."
The health board has acknowledged "significant challenges" with parking, particularly during peak hours.
Plans to extend the car park by creating two overspill car park areas were recently put on hold due to "financial pressures across the organisation".
Efforts have intensified for holding patient appointments via video conferencing or tele-consultation where possible.