Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust: Open Parking Case Study

How collaboration and modern technology have fostered a positive parking experience


One of the largest NHS providers in the country, the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust (NCAFT) brings together staff and services from Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (SRFT) and The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (PAT). NCAFT was formally established in October 2021 and has been working together as a group since 2016.

The Challenge

Comprising a diverse group of care organisations, NCAFT needed to establish policy and solutions to create a uniform approach to the management of parking operations. Specific aspects to be addressed included:

  • Inconsistent enforcement had lowered deterrence levels, reducing compliance and resulting in complaints
  • An existing database permit system was dated and clunky, didn’t work in real time, and wasn’t linked to enforcement software
  • Unclear and inconsistent signage relating to terms and conditions of parking within the individual care organisations
  • Parking management issues wasted admin team’s time
  • Solutions had to be adaptable, real time and future-proof

Barry Waterhouse, NCAFT Travel and Access Manager, said: “We needed a comprehensive solution of measures to provide a consistent level of service and ensure high levels of compliance. It was important to work with a flexible, open and transparent technology partner; one that would understand the nature of our group and work progressively with us.”


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Solution and Service Provision

The NCAFT team understood that this would be large-scale project requiring regular dialogue and project planning; and a phased approach to solutions and service delivery. Taking these factors into account, they took the decision to partner with Open Parking: “We selected Open Parking due to their positive, flexible and honest approach to implementing our revised parking management,” said Barry.

Some of the core aspects of the solution delivered include:

Approved Signage

Around 1,500 approved signs had to be installed across the care organisations. These had to be consistent, clear and concise, containing all required terms and conditions.


Open Parking’s virtual permit management solution (PermitSmarti) was installed to provide easy to use, Cloud-based self-serve permit management. PermitSmarti greatly simplifies administration and provides a clear understanding of the travel requirements of individuals. An online application system enables applicants to answer key questions relating to travel plans and pre-set criteria, with eligibility determined by a range of factors including distance to work, vehicle emissions and more.


Open Parking’s ScanSmarti system, installed on Samsung Galaxy Smartphones, enables patrol officers to rapidly scan vehicles using Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, removing manual data entry and providing instant information regarding whether vehicles are parked legally via a permit or other payment.

Rialto enforcement software connects with the back office in real time, enabling patrol officers to instantly issue Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) for any regulation breaches. PCNs are printed via a Bluetooth-connected portable printer.


Open Parking provided a complete administration service, covering both permit administration and PCN processing (including appeals management) via its Business Processing Unit (BPU) based in Northampton. Motorists are able to access a web portal to review all evidence and messages, enabling greater efficiency, transparency and consistency of processes.

The BPU operates as an extension of NCAFT’s team, with open dialogue wherever required.

In this way the BPU has removed the burden of administrative tasks and issues from the NCAFT team, while retaining access and involvement where required. Barry said: “The BPU has freed up our staff. Administration, issues and complaints have all reduced – and compliance has significantly improved.”

Cashless Payment

Supporting the sustainability agenda, a cashless payment solution was provided (along with the virtual permits, which also encourages green travel). Visitors are able to book parking sessions via app, web or text. This solution was essential through the Covid-19 pandemic, enabling parking without handling coins or pay and display machines.



Commenting on the project’s outcomes, NCAFT’s Barry Waterhouse said: “While Covid-19 has stretched our delivery times, the Open Parking team remained with us throughout, supporting us in each aspect, as a trusted partner plus also as a ‘critical friend’.”

Barry explains that the client-supplier relationship has been fundamentally important to the NCAFT team: “Open Parking have been helpful, positive and flexible. They have always been prepared to sit down with us and work through all the available options. This has helped with our internal dialogues and processes, enabling us to take decisions that are right for our organisation.”

Looking to the Future

NCAFT is focused on flexibility and a progressive approach to air quality and sustainable travel concerns. As such, the team is currently focused on a number of service enhancements including the introduction of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) enforcement to specific car parks. The planned solution will provide real-time linking of ANPR with Open Parking’s back-office system in real time, thereby reducing patrol requirements and helping to address problematic areas that require continual enforcement.

Open Parking’s Business Development Manager, George To, said: “Providing fair, sustainable and accessible parking for staff and visitors is a major challenge for large healthcare organisations. As the NCAFT implementation shows, Open Parking is focused on working closely with customers to provide technical solutions and services that alleviate these challenges.”

NCAFT’s Barry Waterhouse said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the Open Parking team. Their solutions and services have given us time back: the solutions ‘just work’ and the services provide efficiency and confidence. We look forward to continuing this partnership and collaborating on future projects to benefit the group and wider users.”