The Scottish Government has been urged to carry out a national review of NHS parking and transport after it emerged more than 2,000 NHS workers are waiting on parking permits.
A total of 2,247 NHS workers across five different health boards currently do not have permission to park at hospitals and health centres.
More than half of those waiting – 1,236 – were in NHS Lothian, while 513 workers are waiting in NHS Grampian, 363 in Forth Valley and 88 at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
A total of 47 staff are waiting at NHS Tayside but this does not include any workers waiting for permits for the privately-owned car park at its main site Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
The figures were released to the Scottish Conservatives under Freedom of Information and the remaining nine health boards either do not have permit schemes or have no staff members on their waiting lists.
The party’s health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “If we have thousands of staff awaiting a permit, you can imagine how difficult it is for patients and visitors.
“Health workers are under enough strain without having to spend ages before their shift looking for a parking space.
“Many new hospital sites are built out-of-town where space isn’t an issue – it simply should not have got to this stage.”
He added: “Increasingly I hear from medical professionals who tell me on too many occasions they are driving around looking for parking spaces when patients are waiting to see them in clinics.
“It’s time for SNP ministers to undertake a national review of NHS parking and transport and look to how new solutions can be developed across Scotland.”
The SNP announced parking charges at publicly-owned hospitals would be scrapped in 2008 but said it would is too expensive to do the same at sites such as Edinburgh and Glasgow Royal Infirmaries and Ninewells in Dundee which are privately owned and managed.
Labour MSP Jenny Marra plans to bring forward a Member’s Bill to the Scottish Parliament to remove parking charges.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government abolished car park fees at a number of hospitals in December 2008 – a move which has saved patients, visitors and staff around £32 million and has raised concerns where contracts that predate this government mean charges are still in place.”