Plans to dish out hefty fines to hospital visitors who fail to pay for parking have been branded a “complete disaster”.
Barnet Hospital, in Wellhouse Lane, High Barnet, has employed Parking Eye to ensure drivers pay the required charges to park in the car park.
The firm has previously attracted a lot of criticism for apparently using “confusing" signs and complicated systems that leave many puzzled by the rules.
According to the Royal Free NHS Trust, which manages the hospital, people will be given the option to pay in advance or until midnight on the day they leave the hospital.
However, parking expert Derek Dishman, who blogs under the name Mr Mustard, is “doubtful” about how the system will work.
He said: “This is most interesting but we’ll have to see how it works because they have to make a profit somewhere. I’ll be reserving judgment on this one to see how it pans out.
“I don’t understand why you don’t just have to pay as you leave because then there’s no doubt. If there’s a barrier, the compliance rate is 100 per cent.”
Mr Dishman said he disagrees with removing the “human element” of paying the cost of parking directly to an employee inside the car park itself.
He added: “People would feel safer that way. I agree there have to be some controls, but I believe this is the wrong one.”
“I fear this isn’t going to fix anything and just add to the problem.”
Money raised from fines will go to the Royal Free Hospital Trust.
Parking Eye uses the automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR) to photograph people entering and exiting the hospital to monitor those who have failed to pay.
The first four hours cost £1 per hour, with prices going up to £7 for six hours and £10 for 24 hours.
Charges will stay the same when the new system is introduced on September 1.
Parking expert Alex Shipp, who is also known as the Parking Prankster, said: “This is bad news. Parking Eye only makes money from penalties so there’s no intent for it to be done fairly.
“You need some kind of regime. It’s a disaster. You shouldn’t find people massive amounts at a place where only the vulnerable are going.
“They use confusing signs and complicated systems to generate as much revenue as possible. It causes much distress to vulnerable members of society – those who need to go to hospital.”
Emergency visits allow 20 minutes free of charge in designated areas to drop off and pick up patients, and weekly permits are available to cut costs.
Those who visit the hospital every day for more than a month are eligible to apply for a free pass.
Parking Eye has also pledged to install 250 large, clear signs across the car park, each at least twice the minimum size recommended.
People will also be able to use a range of payment facilities including card, cash or pay-by-phone.
A statement from the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Parking Eye ANPR solution provides a fair and managed system supported by regular patrols to ensure that a safe and managed car park environment is maintained for all users. There are automated and manual checks to ensure that the cameras are accurate.
“The Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system is appropriate for a hospital environment as it ensures that patients can pay for the parking that they use and not have to anticipate how much time they will require.”