PATIENTS and visitors who regularly drive to Warrington Hospital are growing increasingly concerned over a new parking system at the hospital.

Automatic licence-plate recognition technology is currently being installed around the Lovely Lane site with the system expected to be going live in September.

But many readers have expressed fears the new system, which involves putting your car’s registration into the machine before paying, will be difficult for many to cope with including elderly visitors or panicked patients hurriedly trying to get into hospital.

Complaints so far include keypads on pay machines being too small for those with poor eyesight to read the instructions and worries attempts to remember a car’s licence plate to enter into the machine could prove difficult for elderly patients.

Parking charges have also come under fire as motorists are allowed 30 minutes of free parking to suit visitors dropping off a patient but to return during visiting hours is £3 for up to five hours of parking.

It means visiting a relative in hospital for a week would cost £35 to stay for an hour during each visit.

Pauline McEwan commented on our website: “Why should patients have to pay for parking?

“Hospitals should send some kind of card/badge for people who have appointments because you are very rarely seen at your appointment time.”

Another reader added the charges were ‘unjustified and unreasonable’ and the cost was ‘just another stress on top of worrying about the patient you are visiting’.

A hospital spokesman said: “The changes we have made to our car parking arrangements is to improve the system for our visitors. 

“The latest element is to prevent the misuse of parking facilities and inappropriate parking that often causes obstructions and hazards on site.

“We are aware that some patients and visitors have concerns about the machines and inputting their vehicle registrations wrong, but we want to reassure them if they do receive a fine and have proof of parking then the fine will be cancelled.

The spokesman added concessions would be available for regular patients and visitors bringing the cost down to around £1 a day.

Ranger Services has been appointed to enforce parking regulations and can hand out £75 fines, reduced to £40 if paid within 14 days.

A trust spokesman added any funds received from parking charge notices will be reinvested into ‘travel facilities’.

Car parking Q&A

Q: What happens if a patient or visitor enters their registration wrong, will they still have to pay the fine?

If a patient has entered the wrong registration and receives a fine, then they just need to send the ticket as proof and the fine will be cancelled.

Q: Can visitors use the £3.00 for 5 hours option to cover both visiting sessions (3.00pm – 4.00pm and 6.30pm – 7.30pm)? So they can leave the site and come back later without paying anymore?

Yes, if visitors pay for a full 5 hours, the administrative team will be able to see this information and the visitor should not receive a charge notice. If for any reason they do, they just need to contact the company with their ticket and the fine would be cancelled.