HEALTH chiefs have defended a significant rise in car parking charges at Evesham Community Hospital.
The previous 50p per hour rate was scrapped earlier this month in favour of a new staggered charging system.
Although the first 20 minutes parking are now free, the cost of parking between 20 minutes and two hours is £2.50, meaning anyone who is parked one minute over the 20 minute limit will have to fork out the new charge.
One irate visitor, who wished to remain anonymous, slammed the new charges and said: “It’s bad enough that when you are in there it takes them so long to see you.
“But now you have to pay £2.50 whether you have been there for 25 minutes or one hour 55 minutes.
“There is not enough services there anyway, all this is going to do is make people want to use Worcestershire Royal more and put more pressure on the staff there.
“I suggest they look at raising the free parking until at least 30 minutes, I don’t know how you can get in and out in just 20.” he added.
Anyone parked for between two and four hours is now charged £3.50 while those parked longer than four hours will pay £4.
Bosses at Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said the new charges are more in line with charges in other hospital and local authority car parks.
Worcestershire Royal Hospital charges £3 for up to two hours, £4.50 for two to four hours, £6 for four to six hours and £7.50 for over six hours.
And parking at Pershore Community Hospital is 50p for up to 30 minutes, £1 for up to an hour, £2 for up to two hours and £3 for up to three hours on the short stay car park.
Meanwhile parking on the long stay car park is £1 for one hour, £2 for two hours, £3 for three hours or £4 for up to 10 hours; however both car parks are controlled by Wychavon District Council.
A spokesperson for Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said: “The new charges came into effect from April 1. The changes follow a review of our charges compared with those at the Worcestershire Acute hospital sites and local authority car parks.”