Visitors to Watford General Hospital face having to pay for parking again after charges were reintroduced.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has confirmed drivers will need to pay to park again at its hospitals in Watford, St Albans, and Hemel Hempstead.

Parking at the hospital sites has been free for patients and visitors for more than a year because of the pandemic, with the Government temporarily funding the costs of providing hospital parking.

That funding has now ceased and the trust took the decision to reintroduce the charges from Monday August 2.

Paddy Hennessy, the trust’s director of environment, said: "We have held off for longer than many other trusts before re-imposing parking charges, but the fact is that parking is not free; there are staff, lighting, parking machines and land costs."

Charges apply to both patients and visitors. A review has taken place meaning some of the pricing has changed.

Parking for 30 minutes in designated bays remains free but those staying for an hour will now pay £3 rather than the £2 it cost previously.

However parking for four hours will cost £6 instead of £8.

A full breakdown of current parking charges can be found at the bottom of the article.

Some patients and visitors are entitled to free parking. This includes:

  • blue badge holders
  • parents or carers of under 18s who have been admitted overnight as an inpatient can park free between of 7.30pm and 8am
  • patients who attend outpatient clinics on a frequent basis, that is three or more planned appointments in a single month (ie a period of 30 days).

Parking charges for staff is yet to be reintroduced, the trust has confirmed.

Mr Hennessey added: "We are developing a green travel plan which we hope will encourage people to consider alternatives to driving to get to our hospitals, where possible.

"Also, our clinical strategy is geared towards reducing the number of visits patients need to make, either by providing online or telephone consultations or by combining several steps of their treatment within the same appointment.

"And we continue to focus on reducing the length of time inpatients stay with us and work with our health partners to prevent admission altogether by providing care more locally."

A multi-storey car park for Watford General is currently under construction and will not be completed until early 2022.

Watford Observer: CGI of car park under construction at Watford General HospitalCGI of car park under construction at Watford General Hospital

The car park will have pay on exit technology, bridge links and lifts linking it directly to future hospital buildings and improved lighting.

It will also have charging points for electric vehicles and a higher ratio of spaces for blue badge holders. The car park will have spaces for staff, patients and the residents of the Watford Riverwell development.

Full breakdown of latest car parking charges at Watford General, St Albans, and Hemel Hempstead hospitals

  • Up to 30 minutes: free (in designated bays)
  • Up to 2 hours - £3
  • Up to 4 hours - £6
  • Up to 6 hours - £8
  • More than 6 hours - £10
  • More than 12 hours - £15