Sneak hikes in hospital parking fees introduced

Disabled parking sign at St Albans City Hospital

Disabled parking sign at St Albans City Hospital - Credit: Archant

NEW patient and visitor car parking charges are being introduced at St Albans City and the two other hospitals in West Herts.

From August 1, parking will be free in designated bays for up to 30 minutes rising to £2 for an hour and then graded up to £15 for six to 24 hours.

But there is no plan at the moment to introduce a pay on exit system so visitors who overstay the time they expect to be at one of the hospitals could find themselves topping up their parking tickets and paying more than they do at present.

Current charges are £4 for up to three hours, £6 for up to five hours and £12 all day.

A wide range of updated car parking discounts will continue to be on offer to people who visit the hospital sites frequently for regular treatment such as cancer or renal dialysis.

A controversial scheme to charge Blue Badge holders has already been scrapped and the hospitals will continue to have dedicated priority spaces for disabled patients.

The intersite transport service, predominantly for staff, will continue to run directly between the Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans hospital sites and passengers will be charged £2 per journey. Priority will be given to staff travelling between sites and if there are places available, passengers will be able to buy tickets from the car parking pay and display machines on all sites.

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Trust chief executive Samantha Jones, said: “Using what patients and local people told us from the listening exercise, we have worked with our staff, staff representatives, our car parking contractor and a number of local bus providers to come up with the best possible options for future transport and car parking arrangements.

“It was clear from the listening exercise that the majority of people wanted a car parking charging structure based on an hourly rate, so we have worked with our car parking contractor, to come up with a pricing structure which is reasonably priced for those using the car parks and also covers the cost of running and maintaining the car parking facilities. This includes security and lighting.

“The depth of feeling about the need for an intersite bus service was also clearly apparent from the listening exercise, particularly from our own staff. We have therefore worked hard with local bus providers to come up with a service which is affordable to users and manageable within our limited resources.”

A spokesperson for the West Herts Hospitals Trust confirmed that the existing pay and display on entry system at the three hospitals would continue and added: “We will be considering the introduction of a pay on exit scheme as part of future developments across our hospital sites.”