Hospitals in Scotland must put in place guidelines on cutting parking charges “without delay”, the health secretary has said.
Nicola Sturgeon added that parking should be free unless congestion in the local area makes fees “unavoidable”.
She also said a £3 a day maximum charge unveiled last month must be implemented immediately.
The recommendations have been published by an independent review group made up of officials, NHS employees and patient groups.
The guidelines apply to NHS parking facilities and where commercial contractors operate the service, but the report also said sites under PFI contracts need to be examined further.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The review group has endorsed the view that in general, car parking charges at hospitals should be provided free of charge.
“It also came to the conclusion that a maximum charge should be set, and in order to protect against unnecessary or excessive charges in the meantime, I decided in December to introduce a cap of £3 a day which boards should implement without delay.
“Evidence from a number of health boards shows that charging high daily rates is not the only way to discourage or control unauthorised parking and I agree with the group’s recommendation that all other avenues should be explored before charges are introduced.”
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