United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) has announced that it is making improvements to its car parking provision for staff and patients - but it will come at the increased cost of around 10 an hour extra for each visit.
The Trust has teamed up with parking management specialists ParkingEye to introduce a new automatic number plate recognition system at all of its car parks.
The ANPR system looks similar to the CCTV cameras on the high street and captures the number plates of all vehicles entering and exiting the car parks.
Information captured by these cameras provides an accurate picture of how long a car stays. The ParkingEye system is already used by many NHS Trusts and is also the preferred provider for three of the largest supermarket companies in the country.
Patients using the car parks should pay at the end of their stay at one of the payment kiosks using their vehicle registration number, or via the Good2Go service which is a web based automated payment system. Parking charge notices are generated and issued to those motorists parked inappropriately or who are in breach of the terms and conditions, such as non-payment.
The hospital trust claims that the advantage of the ParkingEye ANPR system is that it is highly accurate, fair and transparent. For those who park and realise they don’t have any change for the payment kiosks, the kiosks can take payments via coin, notes, credit/debit card, contactless, Apple/android pay and the kiosks can provide change.
The trust says disabled blue badge holders will still be eligible for a parking concession by showing the picture portion of their blue badge to any reception area where they will receive a concessionary barcode to redeem at any payment kiosk. Any patients currently entitled to parking exemptions will continue to be eligible as part of the new system and should give their car registration number to the reception team as they book in for their appointment.
The new system will start at all of the Trust’s hospital sites from Friday November 23. This will coincide with an increase in the cost of parking for patients and visitors, although the trust claims the introduction of the new technology is “in no way responsible” for the increase.
A spokesman explained that the new cameras have been provided and funded by ParkingEye, whereas the Trust still has to maintain the surfacing, lighting and put in new signage.
The hospital trust states: “Every penny put into the machines for car parking will be retained by the Trust and used to cover the cost of providing car parking and security at its hospitals. Funds raised from car parking are used to provide well maintained accessible car parks that are conveniently located for patients and visitors to Lincoln, Boston and Grantham hospitals. As inflation goes up each year so will the associated costs.”
The trust adds that the price increase will make sure that money meant for patient care is not used to cover the costs associated with the provision and maintenance of car parking, but enables them to invest in additional security across the trust and ensure the trust meets the required national standards for the provision of car parking.
If anyone feels they have been fined by the new system unfairly, there is a detailed appeals process.
From November 23 parking fees for up to one hour will increase by 10p to £1.70; one to four hours will increase by 40p to £4.20; over four hours will increase by 50p to £5. Blue badge holders will see an increase of 20p to £1.90 to park.
Paul Boocock, Director of Estates and Facilities at ULHT said: “The Trust is currently experiencing significant financial pressures and has therefore taken the difficult decision to increase patient and public parking charges at our hospital sites.
“The cost of maintaining ULHT car parks continues to rise, so the decision to raise the prices was taken so we do not have to compromise or reduce investment in patient services.
“The increases are minimal and in line with local government rate rises, and still remain competitive and lower than most other NHS Trusts in the region.
“We are committed to providing the very best care possible and hope our patients and visitors understand the reasoning behind these prices increases.”