‘Pay on exit’ system to be introduced at Royal Stoke University Hospital?

Plans to install new meters at hospital exits have hit a barrier – because health bosses can’t afford to make the changes.

University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) NHS Trust has looked at installing ‘pay on exit’ parking at Royal Stoke University Hospital to replace the current pay-and-display machines.

The move came after UHNM’s finance and performance committee queried why the trust’s income for parking was ‘lower than planned’.

In 2016, motorists were slapped with 10,301 parking fines at Royal Stoke, bringing in £37,000 in revenue.

Lorraine Whitehead, director of estates and facilities, says patients currently spend an hour on parking, but end up staying longer.

She said: “Payment on exit would be ideal because that’s what patients have told us they want.

“There’s a chance for us to generate more income from this because, at the moment, people will pay for just an hour but stay at the hospital for longer.

“But this would require a capital investment and we are not in a position to do that.”

Royal Stoke could ditch pay-and-display meters.
Royal Stoke could ditch pay-and-display meters.

Chief executive Paula Clark fears patients could worry about overstaying with the current pay-and-display machines.

She said: “Pay-and-display creates an anxiety because people could have to stay longer than anticipated so, if we make this change, it would take away this anxiety.”But the trust’s acting chairman, Steve Burgin, added: “There would be digging on the car park, and we would have to do some things to make it work.”

Health campaigner Ian Syme opposes parking charges at hospitals, but says barriers at the exit would be fairer on the patients.

He said: “Nowadays, you can get on a bus with a ticket on your phone, so I think this pay on exit system is better. So long as it does not come with an increase in parking fees – because, to me, this is a charge on healthcare.

“In terms of parking, then paying for how long you have been there, can only be a good thing.”

Patient Shaun Harford, from Newcastle, says he would welcome the hospital switching to pay on exit.

The 60-year-old added: “Payment on exit is far better. It’s more fluid and makes it easier for drivers. It is a big bonus paying for the time you use because, at the moment, people will probably just overpay.

“I always put an extra hour in because you never know how long you will be.”

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