MEASURES to help tackle the long-standing lack of parking at Wrexham Maelor Hospital are being drawn up by health chiefs.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is looking at the prospect of creating additional parking spaces by converting land near the hospital that can no longer be used for its original purpose.

Calls have long been made for action to be taken to increase the number of available parking spaces for the hospital's staff and visitors.

Many patients and their families say they have experienced terrible difficulty when trying to find parking on their way to appointments and at visiting times.

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Stewart Hyde, 61, from Acrefair, said: "At certain times of the day parking there is nearly impossible.

"People are desperate to keep their appointments which results in them abandoning their vehicles anywhere they can."

Louise Jones said: "When I was receiving [chemotherapy] treatment at the Shooting Star Unit it would have been good to be able to park by there.

"I think they need to build a multi-storey car park which will ensure there are enough spaces not just for visitors but for the staff too.

"If the staff cannot park, then us patients can not be seen."

Netty Mason, 62, from Marford, spoke of the distress parking space issues are causing her and her mum who is also undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

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She said: "My mum is 86 years old and holds a Blue Badge while on her chemo treatment.

"Despite this we cannot find parking anywhere, so we have to get taxis there and back. This is costing us a fortune.

"It would be nice to see extra places for both badge holders and extra places for normal parking too.

"It has been long overdue but I am thankful it is being taken on board."

Joanne Dunbar, 39, of Wrexham, said parking at the Maelor was "horrendous".

"Despite me holding a blue disabled parking badge and in theory being able to park closer, it sometimes takes up to 45 minutes and five miles of additional driving to find a space, and often it is not very close."

Town centre councillor Marc Jones said he had been calling for action for more than three years now.

"In February last year we met with the hospital bosses to try to resolve the problem but yet we still have the same issues," he said.

It is Welsh Government policy for car parking at hospitals to be free of charge.

But Rachael Tudor said: "Charge to park and patrol it with security. It is that simple.

"Have a staff zone car park as we fight with patients and visitors to park to get into work on time."

Kimberley Woodman-Carr also suggested introducing a payment system would have a positive effect.

She said: "They should charge for parking. That would stop it.

"Then plough the money back into the hospital new equipment etc."

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokeswoman Kathryn Cummings said: "We know parking is a challenge and have made efforts to ease pressures including introducing a drop-off area by entrance B and promoting alternative travel arrangements to the site such as cycling and car share schemes.

"While parking will remain free, we are considering parking measures we could introduce to ensure only appropriate patients, staff and visitors are using our car parks.

"We are aware that from time to time some people are using the car park on the Wrexham Maelor site when they are not using services at the hospital.

"We ask that parking areas only be used by people who need to attend the hospital.”

Sue Williams said extra parking could only be a good thing "but it needs policing so that only those going to the hospital can use it.

"My husband with dementia was taken into A&E by ambulance two weeks ago.

"I could not find anywhere to park, so I had to go to Morrisons.

"Then I had to get a health care assistant to sit with him as I had to move car to avoid a fine."

Karen Pritchard, 51, from Wrexham, said: "I had problems when my husband was in a wheelchair following an accident.

"Trying to park near the hospital for an outpatient appointment was awful, even when arriving half an hour beforehand."

However one visitor believes any funding for developing more parking spaces go be used elsewhere.

Michelle Matthews said: "After being in A&E recently I think the money is better off being spent on more staff.

"The staff are over-stretched and try their best but something needs to be done."