PATIENTS and visitors to Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon will have their pockets spared a little from next month when new parking charges are brought into force. The three-hour minimum charge of £2.60 will be scrapped in favour of a £2 fee for two hours. The hospital is also introducing a more staggered fare structure which will see each additional hour cost £1. This structure continues up until six hours - anything above that will be charged at £10 for 24 hours. The new system, which was put forward by Hinchingbrooke Health Casre NHS Trusts car parking steering group, replaces the fees of £2.60 for three hours, £5.20 for five hours and £8.30 for 24 hours. The hospital has reacted to complaints about the fees from residents who said the rates were excessive for outpatients and for when visiting times are limited to two hours. It was also suggested that the hospital introduce a pay-on-exit system. However, Gerry McSorley, the hospitals new chief executive, said payment on exit was not a financially viable option at Hinchingbrooke because of the costs of building barriers at all of the car parks. He added that the hospital would also be introducing a change machine which would allow people to find the necessary fees (the hospital also has an ATM in the main reception area). David Woods, head of facilties at Hincingbrooke, added: As we have dispersed the patient and visitor parking across the hospital site this makes it very difficult to introduce a barrier system. We hope our patients and visitors will find that the new tariffs are an improvement and we would welcome and listen to any future comments to help us improve our facilities for the users of the hospital. The hospital said that the majority of the visitors to the hospital (93 per cent) were paying £2.60 while five per cent paid for up to five hours and 2 per cent paid for 24 hours parking. Based on current figures, the changes will mean that 98 per cent of users will be paying less, the hospital said. INFORMATION: The new fees were due to be introduced at the start of July.