THE NEW car parking and barrier system at St Mary's Hospital went live today (Tuesday).

Following a period of commissioning and testing, the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system is now ready and affects the main visitor car park at the front of the hospital.

The north car park adjacent to maternity and the coronary care unit (CCU) will operate the same system later in the month.

Instead of using the old pay and display ticket system, ANPR reads the car number plate when drivers arrive and leave the car park.

New payment machines have been installed in both car parks as well as inside the main entrance and north entrance adjacent to the reception areas.

The machines offer a range of payment options including cash, card, telephone payments or by mobile app, APCOA connect.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust has said there are currently no plans to increase parking rates.

In addition to the automated number plate recognition in the main car park, a barrier will be in operation towards the south of the site.

From today, only authorised vehicles will be able to pass through the barrier which will be controlled by the automatic number plate recognition system. All other vehicles will not be able to pass through the barrier.

A spokesperson for the Isle of Wight NHS Trust said: "St Mary's Hospital site is increasingly being used as a 'rat-run' by those who wish to avoid congestion on the roundabout or shorten their journey.

"The increased vehicular movement on site causes issues and there have been several near misses. Fortunately, accidents causing injury have been avoided but the trust has a 'duty of care' to everyone using the St Mary's Hospital site — patients, visitors, volunteers and staff."

Jon Burwell, director of strategy and planning at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said: "This new system will enable us to provide a better service for patients and visitors. No longer will patients have to worry about whether their parking ticket is going to run out.

"The system will also benefit staff with a simplified administrative system and no requirement to display a permit in the windscreen of staff cars. The system will also provide the trust with the ability to improve road traffic management on the St Mary's Hospital site."