Parking charges for patients, visitors and staff are being introduced at a hospital this spring.

The scheme at Brighton General Hospital is aimed at ensuring enough places are available for visitors, improving access for emergency vehicles and stopping drivers from getting blocked in.

The decision has also been made because of possible parking restrictions that could be introduced in Elm Grove, where the hospital is based.

Bosses believe if they did not introduce charges the hospital ground could become a popular space to park for free by people who would then get a bus into the city centre.

The hospital, run by the Sussex Community Trust, is home to more than 100 departments and services and is used by more than 1,100 staff from three different NHS trusts.

It is visited on average by more than 550 patients each day.

From April 6, most people will need to pay to park and their fees will help to cover the cost of the scheme.

The trust will reinvest any surplus income generated by the scheme once the costs are covered.

It says the move will also improve the safety and security of drivers, their vehicles and pedestrians.

In a statement on its website, the trust said: “This is a new scheme, and we will monitor and review its implementation over the year and make adjustments where necessary. An initial review is planned for October 2015.”

The trust will create clearly segregated parking areas, with the main car park for the use of patients and visitors.

There will be 27 disabled bays where blue badge holders can park for free, and there will be seven drop-off bays where anyone visiting the site can park for 20-minutes without charge.

Entry and exit will be controlled by ticket barriers and visitors will pay at a machine before leaving.

Staff who want to park on site who do not need to use their vehicle during the day will be able to apply for an annual parking permit and charges will vary according to how much they earn.

Sussex Community Trust staff based at the hospital who come to and from the site during their working day will be able to park in designated areas for free for up to two hours.

The charges are similar to those charged by other NHS trusts in the area and range from £2.50 for up to two hours to £20 for 24 hours.