UP TO 70 new parking spaces could be provided at a Gwent hospital to try to solve a worsening problem with patients and staff leaving cars on grass verges, pavements, and double yellow lines.

The situation at County Hospital in Griffithstown, Pontypool, has become so acute that demand for spaces is currently close to a third more than the 200 already provided.

Complaints about parking at the site have increased recently and are a regular feature in Hospital and Patient Environment (HPE) reports, compiled following visits by members of Gwent’s independent patients’ watchdog Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council.

A patient who contacted the Argus said they had been late for an appointment last week, despite initially arriving early, after spending 40 minutes searching and waiting for a space on the site.

“I can’t walk very well, so I didn’t want to park too far away, but car parking at County Hospital is ridiculous,” he said.

“People cram their cars into every possible space in the car parks, there are cars parked half-on and half-off the paths, and they are often right up the side of the exit road.

“This time there were several other cars waiting behind me.

“And when you do get a space it’s difficult to walk on some of the paths.”

One of the two car parks at County is marked for staff only and the other, some way from the main hospital buildings, is shared by staff, patients and visitors.

“Both car parks are full by 9.30am, with the first patients arriving on site for appointments at 8.30am,” states a health board report.

“A recent survey showed there were at least 60 vehicles parked illegally on grass verges, pavements and double yellow lines.”

Demand for spaces has increased due to the relocation of a scanning unit from Nevill Hall Hospital , the development of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s pain service on the site and the recent arrival of its orthotics service.

The health board is considering providing between 65 and 70 extra spaces on the site’s old tennis courts at a cost of £79,000.

This car park could be fitted with a barrier which would not be raised until 8.45am, to give patients a greater chance of parking.