Disabled patients and visitors at two Midland hospitals will have to pay for car parking in future, it was revealed yesterday.
The move follows complaints that they frequently find able-bodied motorists using the designated spaces at Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital and Solihull Hospital.
But the Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, hopes to alleviate the problem by building a new disabled car park at Heartlands, in Bordesley Green, with 30 to 40 spaces.
The plans, which are awaiting approval, will also include ten more disabled spaces at the new hospital entrance.
Trust bosses also plan to make disabled motorists pay parking fees, when the dedicated car park is completed later this year.
Parking charges, which apply to all car parks on both sites, range from £2 for up to an hour to £8 for 24 hours.
One patient who has a deformed spine and chronic arthritis - and asked not to be named - has to come to Heartlands for physiotherapy three times a week.
The 52-year-old woman, who lives in Stechford, said: "This is a vital service for me and at the moment I don't have to pay for my parking.
"But disabled spaces are very few and far between, and often taken up by people who don't need them, so I often face a long walk to outpatients before my appointment.
"My sessions take about 40 minutes, so with the charges this will cost me an extra £6 a week. It may not sound a lot but it will soon add up."
Patients and visitors using car parks at both hospitals will also face fines of up to £25 if they park illegally.
Motorists will be fined for using ambulance bays outside A&E, disabled spaces or parking in restricted areas at Heartlands and Solihull from September.
Illegally parked cars are currently clamped by security officials on both sites, and motorists must pay a £10 release charge.
Under the new system, motorists who pay within 14 days will only have to pay a £12.50 fine.