A ROLL-out of free hospital parking for NHS patients and visitors will start in the new year.

Patients who attend hospital on a long-term basis will not have to pay along with members of the blue badge disabled scheme.

Paul Brennan, deputy chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages Worcestershire Royal, Kidderminster and Redditch's Alexandra Hospitals, said: “We continue to explore ways in which we can increase our parking capacity and improve our patient, visitor and staff experience when visiting any of our sites - so welcome any support that helps us with this.

“We regularly benchmark our car parking charges against other local hospital trusts to ensure that our charges remain in line with, or cheaper, than the average hospital parking charges.

“As some of our patients require regular visits to our hospitals, we also already offer concessionary parking for parents visiting children in our care, patients with cancer and other long-stay patients and their visitors.

“The Trust will make changes as necessary from April 2020 to ensure compliance with national policy.”

Trusts manage their own car parking and revenue generated is put back into healthcare.

Parents of children receiving hospital care and night shift workers will also get free parking under Government changes.

In November, The Shuttle reported on the chief executive of the county’s hospital trust apologising for ongoing issues caused by parking problems at Worcestershire Royal.

Matthew Hopkins, of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said at the time: “We are aware of the complex issues faced with car parking at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital site and apologise for any impact this has on any of the local residents.”

His comment was a reaction to Worcester resident Pat Cooke’s experience dropping off a friend with a hip problem but having to park 20 minutes away as she could not find a parking space.

Ms Cooke was forced to leave her 78-year-old friend at the exit barrier and park at Tesco.