PARKING charges at Hereford County Hospital are going up again.

The £3.50 fee for the first hour means visitors will be paying much more than they would at many neighbouring hospitals.

Wye Valley NHS Trust (WVT) and its private finance initiative (PFI) partners could not agree on a deal to keep pay-onexit charges down over 2013, and both sides concede that there’s no deal likely for the remaining length of the 10-year contract.

The politically-charged issue of parking charges at the hospital has even been the subject of a parliamentary debate.

Hereford MP Jesse Norman has called the charges “expensive and unfair”

and their imposition “an example of all that is wrong with PFI contracts”.

WVT interim chief executive Derek Smith has expressed “sadness and disappointment” at the increases .

The parking on site is managed by the trust’s PFI partners, so there is no financial benefit to the cash strapped trust as a result of the rise.

WVT had been in talks with its partners to find an alternative to an increase in charges, but these talks ended with no alternative to be found while the current contract is in place.

Starting next month, the increases offer 10 minutes for free then go up to £3.50 for an hour, £5 for two hours, £6 for three hours, £7 for four hours, £8 for five hours, £12 for up to nine hours and £15 for 24 hours.