HOSPITAL visitors have been forced to pay to get out of a car park when they have not been able to find a space.
To make matters worse, they have to leave their cars doubled parked to go inside the hospital to buy a £2 token for the exit barrier.
The Countess of Chester hospital say they have fixed the 'glitch' where a barrier was lifting to admit drivers to one of their main car parks even though it was full.
Chronicle photographer Tony Clixby was caught out by the wayward barrier when he visited the hospital.
'There was no indication the car park was full,' he said. 'The barrier lifted to let me in but then I couldn't find a space.
'The only way I could get out was to lock up my car and go into the hospital to buy a token then return to my car and pay to get out.
'I saw several other visitors driving around the car park with no spaces and have to pay to get tokens to leave.'
And a patients' watchdog is not convinced the Countess has chosen the right system for its car parks.
The Patient and Public Involvement Forum (PPI) spokesman Geoff Ryall-Harvey said: 'We think the system they have chosen doesn't give a great deal of flexibility.
'If a machine issues a ticket there are all sorts of things you can do with that. The one at Leighton Hospital, you come into the car park, get a ticket, and the first 20 minutes is free. So you can drop somebody off and pick them up later. You can do that because you are taking a ticket.
'For exemptions, you could adjust the ticket to let the person out. If you went into one car park and it was full you could get out for free.'
Hospital spokeswoman Lorna Jones said: 'Apparently there was a glitch in the system and it was miscalculating the number of cars it was letting in. Hopefully it's sorted now.'