ST MARY'S Hospital will offer free parking to visitors when lengthy queues build up at the ticket machines to pay.

A new system was installed at the Newport hospital a year ago.

An automatic number plate recognition system replaced the old 'pay and display machines'.

However, queues continue to form as visitors now pay before leaving, rather than on arrival.

At a meeting of the trust board yesterday (Thursday), hospital bosses said steps were being taken to reduce queues and delays to people leaving the hospital grounds, after visitors complained of 'sight problems' when using the new machines.

Steps include the installation of a telephone next to the machine, positioning officers next to the machines during peak times, and offering free parking during times when lengthy queues build up.

Chief executive Maggie Oldham said: "We have had relatively few official complaints about the new parking system when you consider how many thousands of people use the car park at the hospital."