Cash-strapped hospital bosses have increased car parking charges by 25 per cent at Chase Farm Hospital.

Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital Trust will increase the daily rate from £3 to £4 and the weekly rate from £8 to £11 as it seeks to reduce an underlying £18million deficit.

Last year car parking fees levied £1million for the hospital.

Alex Nunes, chairman of the trust's Patient and Public Involvement Forum, said the charges were unfair. "We feel that the charges are excessive and that a better system could be introduced.

"Most hospital trusts are doing this to supplement income and it hurts those who are most sick or who have to visit sick people.

There are 893 parking spaces for visitors, patients and staff at Barnet General Hospital and 993 spaces at Chase Farm Hospital, the maximum number allowed by the local councils.

In a survey of parking charges the hospital raised the tenth highest amount of money out of 146 hospital trusts nationwide.

A spokeswoman for Chase Farm Hospital, which is predicting a deficit of £9.3m by the end of this month, said the trust needs this money to avoid making further cuts.

She said: "Most hospitals charge for car parking and this provides vital income for the hospitals. All income from car parking is put back into hospital budgets and, given the trust's current financial situation, we need to maximise our income to avoid having to make reductions which may impact on patient services."

But Liz and Michael Rose, of Friern Barnet Lane, Whetstone, disagree. The couple take their diabetic 15-year-old son, Douglas, for a consultation at Barnet Hospital every three months.

On two recent occasions, because neither of them could find anywhere to park, Douglas had to attend an appointment by himself.

"There's nowhere else other than the hospital to park," she said. "Michael once drove round for an hour trying to find somewhere to park."