PARKING charge signs at Hereford County Hospital are an eye test that needs a higher pass rate, health bosses have been told.

Wye Valley NHS Trust (WVT) wants signs showing parking costs to be bigger – but will probably have to pay for new signs itself.

Herefordshire Meanwhile, Healthwatch Herefordshire, meantime, has already squeezed into the space to produced a “user friendly” guide of its own to the charges.

Healthwatch chairman Paul Deneen said the factsheet for patients, carers and family members alike was a response to concern about the charges and how they applied. That concern, he said, was now a priority for the watchdog.

Parking charges were again raised as an issue at this month’s meeting of the WVT board. Members were told car park users were struggling to see – in full – signs outlining the extent of the charges.

Bigger signposts were pitched as a solution, but the board was told the Trust would probably have to cover the cost.

Another option, members heard, was the promotion of cheaper long-stay council parking spaces close-by and the increased use of “drop-off” zones.

In December, the Hereford Times revealed that the hospital’s already hefty parking charges were due to go up at least once more before the relevant contract ran out in 2016.

WVT has ruled out a return to covering parking costs through subsidies, agreeing instead to encourage more use of available concessions.

When charges went up in 2012, the Hereford Times revealed that WVT spent more than £300,000 on parking subsidies between 2008-2011 before ending the practice for cost reasons.

Under the 30-year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal that got the hospital built, management of the car park is sub-contracted out over a 10-year term to Car Parking Plus on behalf of Mercia Healthcare – WVT’s contract partner.

The PFI contract had the hospital built, owned and managed through Mercia Healthcare which is a special purpose company 75% owned by Semperian, a London based PFI firm, and 25% owned by French industrial giant Sodexo.

For the Healthwatch guide, go to visit