A HEALTH board is set to spend more than £24,000 as part of a crackdown on drivers who misuse hospitals’ disabled parking bays.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran said the “frequent misuse of disabled spaces” by motorists without Blue Badges had escalated since hospital car park wardens were axed in May 2017.

Patients were bearing the brunt, said the health board, as many had mobility problems or relied on wheelchairs but were forced to park far from hospital entrances.

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The problem has occurred despite 135 new parking spaces being added at University Hospital Ayr since 2013, along with 193 extra bays at University Hospital Crosshouse.

Health board bosses have now approved proposals for a traffic regulation order (TRO) which will enable council parking wardens to police their NHS car parks and issue £60 penalty notices to drivers caught in disabled bays without a Blue Badge.

Drivers will also be fined if they leave their cars too long drop-off spaces.

However, the move will cost NHS A&A £24,100. This includes £10,000 to burn-off the existing yellow paint road markings and re-draw them using regulation-compliant white paint, and to amend the layouts of around half of the disabled bays.

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The health board will also have to pay a further £14,100 to put up parking bay signage as well as warning notices telling motorists they will be fined for misusing the bays.

Four other health boards - NHS Lothian, Highland, Tayside and Fife - have already introduced similar financial penalties to protect disabled parking bays.

John Wright, director for corporate support services, said: “Across our sites, we have almost 5,500 car parking spaces, 261 of which are dedicated disabled parking bays.

"Despite this, we receive a high number of complaints from service users and visitors to our hospitals that these disabled parking bays are often filled with cars not displaying a blue badge.

“Currently, the misuse of disabled spaces carries a penalty in public car parks and roads, but not in hospital sites. By introducing this traffic regulation, we hope to discourage drivers from parking inappropriately – either in disabled parking bays or in the drop-off areas at our hospital entrances.”

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Enforcement will be carried out by Ayrshire Roads Alliance with any revenue from fines going to East and South Ayrshire councils.

The health board had previously tried to enforce parking rules with the introduction of its own wardens in 2015.

However, they were powerless to issue fines and could only stick warning notices to drivers’ windscreens.

Mr Wright added: “We hope that by introducing this regulation, we can ensure that our car parks are used appropriately.”