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New parking system at QEQM hospital a mixed blessing?

New pay-on-foot car parking has gone live at Margate’s Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital at no additional cost to visitors.

It involves a ticket being taken by the driver on entry to the car park which is then paid for on foot prior to leaving.

Some visitors have been unhappy about the queueing that happens sometimes, waiting for when “a space becomes available”.

The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said trials are still underway about what are the appropriate number of cars to let in.

The trust says the change brings a number of benefits including a cut of the minimum charge from £2 to £1 and incremental parking charges of 20p for every 12 minutes after the first hour. There is no expiry time on tickets or the potential to forget to buy a ticket.

For those who need more time, there will no longer be concerns about getting a fine or topping up.

Blue badge holders have specific free parking areas near the hospital entrance, outside the barriers. They are urged to follows signs, because some disabled spaces may have moved.

Car parking charges are £1 for up to an hour, 20p for every 12 minutes after the first hour up to six hours, and £8 for six to 24 hours. Weekly tickets are £12.

One regular QEQM visitor said she had found the traffic could be a nightmare. “Once you go in and are in front of the barriers waiting for your ticket, which will only be produced when there is a ‘space’. You are stuck, because there is nowhere to go. You can’t go back out as it’s all one way. You can’t go in the car park because the barrier is down, and if you do go in you can’t leave without paying.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “The barrier system knows the number of spaces available in the car park at any one time. On the Ramsgate Road side only one extra car can enter on the assumption that there is nearly always someone in the process of leaving. No other cars can enter when full.

“We are trialling what the appropriate number is to let into the zone at any one time.

“The Ramsgate Road side is now one way around the site, this enables a queuing of cars with a left hand lane also to exit if they don’t wish to wait.”

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