CHRONIC problems with parking at an Oxford hospital got even worse after a sign directing traffic broke, leading to long tailbacks.

It normally takes up to an hour to wait for a space at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington, but this week patients missed appointments after reporting additional delays of up to 30 minutes.

The problems stemmed from an electronic sign set up to inform divers about which car parks have spaces available.

The sign for the third car park on the site was advertising spaces to drivers, but they then had to turn back when they discovered the car park was in fact full.

But drivers then found themselves unable to reverse as other cars behind had blocked them in, resulting in ‘chaos’.

A dad-of-two, who didn’t want to give his name, said his two-year-old missed her appointment because of the issues after it took him 25 minutes to get out of the car park on Monday after he was erroneously directed there.

The man’s daughter had been in intensive care for cardio problems and was coming back to the Children’s Hospital for a regular check-up.

He said: “Having to go in to hospital is stressful enough already but this was ridiculous.

“The queues went all the way down to Headley Way.

“We completely missed our appointment and now we have to reschedule.

“Things like this only increase the pressure on the NHS.

“We felt the staff could have been more helpful – they could at least put a sign up letting people know that it wasn’t working.”

The Headington hospital has 1,601 parking spaces reserved for hospital staff and 730 for patients and visitors.

More than £3million was raised from parking charges last year, one of the highest in the country.

Parking has been an issue at the hospital for several years and the hospital trust already warns visitors to allow one hour to find a parking space on a normal day.

This is set to increase to two hours as roadworks begin near to the hospital entrance as part of the next phase of Oxfordshire County Council’s £12.5 million road improvement project Access to Headington on January 22.

Hospital bosses have apologised for the problems, which started on Monday, and promised to cover up the sign as they work to fix it.

Matt Holmes, travel and transport manager at Oxford University Hospitals, said:

“We are aware that the electronic sign for car park three at the John Radcliffe Hospital is not working properly, so that it indicates that there are spaces when none are available.

“We are working to fix the issue but in the meantime, we will be covering the sign to avoid further confusion.

“We apologise to our patients and visitors for the inconvenience.”