Drivers using the multistorey car park at Lister Hospital have faced repair work worth tens of thousands of pounds after damaging their cars in the "badly designed" building.

Last month, we published a story about Rachel, who damaged her van on a "very low barrier" in the car park, which is operated by Saba.

Since then, we have heard about fifty more incidents where people say they have damaged their cars in the car park. Many of them were visiting friends or family members who were sick or dying.

Between them, the total cost of the damage sustained runs into the tens of thousands - more than £47,000.

Three drivers said their cars had been written off following damage at the car park, and two drivers said that they had sustained damage there multiple times.

At least 23 of the incidents we have been told about occurred this year, including 13 within the last three months. Other incidents reported to us took place as long ago as 2011 - the year the car park opened.

The Comet: One of the cars that has been damaged in the Lister multistorey car park.One of the cars that has been damaged in the Lister multistorey car park. (Image: Picture supplied)

For 26 incidents, we have been told a cost associated with the damage: the cost of repair work, the cost of the insurance claim, the cost of the excess paid, the settlement following a written off car, or the increase in yearly insurance premium. These costs total £47,675, working out as £1,834 per incident on average.

Almost all of the incidents relate to damage incurred when cars have scraped against the low barriers that are close to the top of the ramps between levels. 

The drivers we spoke to slammed the design of the car park, describing it as "atrocious", and regularly referring to its "tight corners" and "narrow lanes" and spaces.

They also commented on the lack of visibility for drivers trying to see other cars and the low barriers, and the "flawed" entry and exit system that leads to "gridlock" within the car park - putting more pressure on drivers who are manoeuvring.

Sarah Cope refers to it as "the world's worst designed car park", and Anna said it is "the worst multilevel car park" she has ever seen.

David Jones said: "The building as a whole appears to be designed for maximum occupancy with total disregard of the dimensions required for modern vehicles".

Multiple drivers told us that they had never had a problem with any other multistorey car park. One woman said she is "furious" to have lost 58 years of no claims over "a ridiculous and dangerous design fault".

Several commented that the appearance of the barriers themselves - where you can see scrapes and paint left by other cars - is testament "that this is a frequent occurrence".

Many of the people we spoke to now avoid using the car park entirely, forcing them to park further away from the hospital.

They felt that the situation was exacerbated by it being a car park at a hospital - with many drivers already emotional and stressed from visiting friends and family who are suffering.

Sarah Cope said: "It makes what is already a stressful experience - going to hospital, navigating the crumbling NHS - an even more unpleasant task."

The Comet: At least 23 of the incidents we heard about took place this year.At least 23 of the incidents we heard about took place this year. (Image: Picture supplied)

And Alison added: "After an appointment at the hospital some after procedures or operations,  the last thing anybody needs is an accident and potentially stuck with no way of getting of or getting help."

Drivers are now calling for changes to the car park to prevent regular damage to vehicles. 

Among their proposed suggestions are adding rubber to the barriers, making the barriers taller, altering the ramps, and using brighter paint for hazards and give way signs.

Anna said: "Someone should make the car park designers to re-design and fix this car park, as it was designed for drivers to struggle.

"I hope that it will be investigated further and fixed.

"I don't think that the car park managing company will do anything to help Rachel, unless they are forced to do this by whoever issed them a contract."

Alison said: "It is an awful car park and Saba should have to make some safer crash barriers."

And Mr J. R. Smith added: "What can be done to an existing poorly designed car park? It seems 'nothing at all' - nobody wants to know!"

The 667-space multistorey car park cost £7.9 million to build, and opened in 2011. In 2020, it was found to be among the five most expensive hospital car parks in the UK. Prices have increased since then - it currently costs £3.70 to park for between 20 minutes and one hour, and £11.50 to park for longer than six hours. 

Responding to this article, a spokesperson for East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said: “In the last year, over 413,000 vehicles have parked in the multistorey car park at Lister, and while we appreciate how stressful and expensive car damage can be, we believe that the Trust has only received nine complaints about parking since 2016.

“The car park is operated by Saba Parking who are an international parking company with over 300 parking areas across the UK, and the car park meets with all relevant regulations.

“We’re aware that many newer cars are bigger and people who drive larger vehicles may find it more difficult to use our multistorey car park.

"We have repainted line markings and barriers to help drivers, and we will pass your feedback to Saba to consider any further improvements to the car park.”

Saba did not respond to a request for comment.

Stories from those affected


Three years ago, Ian's wife was rushed to A&E in the early hours of the morning. He hit the end of a barrier while turning left into a space at the top of a ramp, doing over £2,000 worth of damage to his car, and adding to his premiums ever since. He has never parked there again.


This man was visiting his wife in hospital late at night when he damaged his car in the multistorey. It was written off. He thinks there should be bollards up on the low barriers so that they can be seen more easily.


Earlier this year, this woman damaged her car while using the multistorey car park for the first time, leaving two doors needing to be replaced.

It is the first time she has had a problem with a multistorey car park in forty years of driving, and says she was "absolutely furious".

When she took it to a garage, the owner informed her that he had done the same with his own vehicle.

When we spoke to her, she was still waiting for the cost of repair work, but she believed it would lead to a large excess and a "drastic increase" to her insurance premiums.


In 2021, Rita picked up her brand new Ford Fiesta. Two days later, she was collecting her husband from his dialysis treatment at the hospital, when she caught her car on one of the low barriers in the car park. The repair work cost £700.


In 2013, Tracey visited Lister for "a very painful colposcopy", and came out "feeling a bit upset". Her car got stuck on one of the low barriers, and she "burst into tears" while stuck, and not knowing what to do. The sensors on her 2006 Seat Leon had not picked up the barrier, and the ensuing repair work cost £1,000 to complete. She describes it as a "horrible experience".


The Comet: Wendy's car was scraped while she left the car park in August.Wendy's car was scraped while she left the car park in August. (Image: Wendy (surname withheld))

Wendy visited Lister for a blood test in August this year, and parked alongside an exit ramp on level four. She was unable to see the low barrier when exiting, and scraped the side of her three-door Kia Picanto. 

Venkatesh Muthukrishnan

The Comet: Venkatesh's car was damaged when he visited the multistorey following an emergency.Venkatesh's car was damaged when he visited the multistorey following an emergency. (Image: Venkatesh Muthukrishnan)

Venkatesh visited Lister for an emergency in June 2023, and is yet to repair his car after scratching it due to the low barriers being in his blindspot.

He said that at the time, he thought he had not been "careful enough" and blamed it on the stress from the emergency. 

After reading our article last month, he says he realised "it wasn't my mistake". It is the only time he has scratched his car since receiving his driving licence in 2019.


This woman was coming to A&E with her husband, who was suffering a suspected stroke, in August this year.

After dropping her husband off, she entered the car park in her Volkswagen Touareg, "carefully driving up the exceptionally narrow ramp".

As she neared the top of the ramp to the fifth floor, she spotted a car on her left pulling out, and attempted to manoeuvre into the spot - but her car mounted the barrier, without the sensors picking it up.

She received quotes of £4,500 and £7,500 for the repair work, and the cost of her insurance has trebled.

She added: "Surely this cannot carry on, costing patients and families huge sums of money due to this design fault.

"Someone must start taking responsibility for this."

She thinks that the ends of each existing barrier should be replaced with a flexible rubber barrier, to reduce the amount of damage caused if vehicles come into contact with them.


This man had been using the car park on a number of occasions in the weeks afte rhis partner had given birth to their baby earlier this year.

He hit his car on one of the low barriers, and said they are "very difficult to see" when they are on the passenger side. The repair work cost £600.


Earlier this year, Brian was picking up his wife - who is disabled - at the car park. With the pick up area very busy, his concentration lapsed, and he "moved too far to the right, as you cannot see from the drivers position where the end of the low concrete wall is".

The side of his car was caught on the wall, and the cheapest quote he received for repairs was £3,500.

He adds: "I had three quotes and every repairer mentioned Lister Hospital multi storey car park before I said anything."

Brian also mentioned the issue to the car park attendant, and "told him it needs some alteration urgently."


David, from Letchworth, used the car park while visiting a family member who was recovering from surgery in 2017. He damaged his car after reversing into a "tight space", and heard an "awful grinding noise".

He says: "If you wanted to design a car park that would cause a lot of damage to the cars, then putting lots of sharp cornered metal objects at a height that can't be seen by the driver is exactly the way to do it.

"It would be so easy to remedy.  A brightly coloured extension could be bolted to each one, and if that was carefully designed and made of a suitable material it would offer a little protection too."

David had to pay a £250 excess, as part of a total insurance claim for around £900.


Sue's husband was in the hospital when she visited him in August 2023. While exiting the car park, she damaged the wheel trim and back door on the drivers side, making an already "really stressful day" even more stressful.

She says she will never use the car park again, and hs been quoted £1,500 for the repair work.


This man visited the hospital in early September 2023 for a blood test. He has a disability, and so tried to park on the first floor, where the only available space was adjacent to a ramp.

He pulled out "cautiously", and a car to his left - invisible from his drivers seat - sounded their horn.

The man then reversed slightly, and caught his car on the low barrier by his door. His sensors did not pick the barrier up.

It "badly damaged" his door and sill, and he has been quoted more than £2,000 for repair work. He describes the car park design as "very bad".


This woman has damaged her car in the multistorey on two separate occasions - once in 2019, and again in 2022. The car passed its MOT on both occasions, and so she opted not to pay for costly repair work.


Natalie damaged her car in the multistorey while coming down the ramps earlier this year . Both doors were damaged on one side of her car, as well as the wheel arch mouldings, tyre and alloy wheel.

She said: "The barriers on the ramps are too high and if you turn a fraction too early, you catch them. 

"They are covered in paint where so many people have done this.

"The car repair company stated that they have about 30 cars a month where people have damaged their cars in this car park.

"It is a design fault as the lanes are too narrow and the barriers/edges of the ramps are too high."

Natalie had to pay an excess of £250 for the repair work, and had to use a hire car while they were carried out.