Improvements underway to hospital parking in Sunderland as Trust introduces new ‘pay on exit’ system
Changes to visitor car parking at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust are set to improve people’s experiences when visiting hospital after health bosses listened to feedback.
From 1 October 2018, a new ‘pay on exit’ system will be introduced at Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sunderland Eye Infirmary and at The Children’s Centre on Durham Road, making it much simpler for people to pay for their parking at the end of their visit.
The Trust has acted on feedback from patients and visitors who found the current payment system confusing. New signage around the Trust’s car parks will make it much clearer to patients and visitors how to pay for their parking and, for the first time, payment machines will also be situated inside hospital buildings to protect people from bad weather when paying for parking.
The new ‘pay on exit’ kiosks will be situated near to all main entrances on the Sunderland Royal site, as well as at Sunderland Eye Infirmary and The Children’s Centre on Durham Road. Using the latest touch screen technology, patients and visitors will be given multiple payment options, including the ability to pay by coins and notes, or to pay by card or contactless.
The new system being introduced at Sunderland is in line with recommended NHS best practice, meaning patients and visitors will be able to pay for their parking when leaving the hospital site, as opposed to when they arrive. It has already been successfully introduced at the newly opened Durham Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in Belmont.
By typing in their registration plate on one of the large touch screen kiosks, an accurate recording of how long a vehicle has been on site will automatically generate the parking fee required. The system uses automatic number plate technology which recognises when vehicles enter and later leave the Trust’s car parks. It means people will only be charged for the time they have been parked and do not need to be concerned about their parking while they are in the hospital or whether they have paid enough.
The previous payment system in Sunderland meant people had to estimate how much time they had spent on site, sometimes resulting in parking charge notices being issued. The Trust hopes the new payment system will reduce the number of times this happens.Car parking charges for the new ‘pay on exit’ system are as follows:
Up to 20 minutes
Up to 1 hour
Up to 2 hours
Up to 4 hours
Up to 24 hours
A free 20-minute period allowing ‘pick-ups’ and ‘drop-offs in designated areas will continue to be available across the Trust’s sites and blue badge holders* will also continue to be exempt from all car parking charges but must register any vehicles used to visit the hospital sites.
Concessionary rates will continue to be available in certain circumstances, for example, people receiving long-term cancer treatment and the visitors of long-stay patients. Patients and visitors should speak to ward managers to ask about this.
Commenting on the improvements being made, Director of CHoICE Facilities Services at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Wayne Carr, said: “We have been working closely with the Trust to improve the car parking payment system and hope these new upgraded kiosks will be welcomed by patients and visitors.
“Attending hospital for an appointment or to visit a loved one can be a stressful time and we want to make it easy and straightforward as possible. We know from feedback that people prefer to ‘pay on exit’ and have the option to pay by card and our new system will work on this basis. The introduction of contactless card technology is a big convenience factor too.
“Introducing the new ‘pay on exit’ kiosks means we have also been able to standardise our payment system, offering more choice and cost effective payment options for those who are visiting us regularly with a free 20 minute drop-off/pick-up period and a weekly £10 pass available through the new payment machines.”
Revenue generated from car parking payments is used to cover the costs of maintaining safe and secure parking facilities with any surpluses reinvested directly back into frontline patient care. The Trust does not receive any income from parking charge notices and it is hoped the new ‘pay on exit’ system will avoid unnecessary parking charge notices being issued.
The new ‘pay on exit’ system will be simultaneously introduced at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust. The changes affect patient and visitor parking only and do not affect staff.