Healthcare bosses have defended a hike in hospital parking charges as “reasonable, fair and competitive” amid complaints from a patient who said they are “totally unacceptable”.

Ken Richardson, who lives in the Hughenden Valley, was shocked to discover the parking charges at Wycombe Hospital had increased after returning to his car from an outpatients’ appointment on November 22.

Since the parking charges went up in all Bucks Healthcare Trust car parks on November 20, hospital visitors now get up to 30 minutes free parking, while up to two hours now costs £3.50 and two to three hours is £5.

Three to four hours parking will now set visitors back £6.50 and four to 24 hours costs £9.

Before the increase, up to two hours parking would cost £2.50, two to three hours £4.50, three to eight hours £6 and eight to 12 hours £7.50, with a £9 charge for 12 to 24 hours parking.

Mr Richardson said the increases are “not acceptable” and urged the trust to make changes for visitors who have to go to the hospital regularly.

Following his experience, he said: “Some concession must really now be considered for those visiting the outpatients department, especially those who have the misfortune of visiting regularly - £3.50 a time really is not an option.

“Admittedly, the free period has been increased to 30 minutes but you would be lucky to get your outpatients appointment completed in that time, especially like today as I had to wait 10 minutes before I could get a parking space.

“I think the hospital authorities must now consider an acceptable charge, perhaps £1.50, with the ticket stamped or authorised in that department for those having treatment there.

“London theatres can do it, so why not our hospitals?”

A spokesman for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said the recent changes were “carefully considered” before being put in place.

They said: “We make every effort to ensure charges remain reasonable, fair and competitive with those of neighbouring hospitals, local car park facilities and in line with national guidance. We have also taken into consideration feedback received from users of our car parks.

“The charges have been amended to better reflect the average length visitors stay in our car parks and, as a result, the majority of users will benefit from an extended period which is free of charge for up to 30 minutes, enabling them to drop off or pick up friends or family in a more comfortable way.

“We realise that parking charges are unpopular. However, we take our responsibility to provide sufficient parking for staff, patients and hospital visitors very seriously, which is why the income received from parking fees is re-invested directly into the provision, maintenance, improvement and safety of our car parks.

“The recent changes will not affect the range of concessions for patients and visitors. These include free parking for blue badge holders and reductions available for patients and visitors who need to be at our hospitals on a regular basis.”