Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Woman, 81, fined for parking at hospital due to lack of spaces

BRENDA WRIGHT received two parking tickets after parking in the Townlands Memorial Hospital car park as the surgeries’ car park was full, writes Jamie Presland.

The hospital car park is also managed by Smart Parking, on behalf of NHS Property Services, and also involves patients entering their details in a keypad at the hospital’s reception. They then receive unlimited parking time in one of 35 patient spaces.

Mrs Wright, 81, of Valley Road, Henley, had two appointments at the Hart surgery on July 3.

The first was at 9am but she found there were no spaces in the car park, so assumed she could use the hospital car park instead and she did the same thing for her next appointment at 6pm. On both occasions, she registered her details using the keypad at the surgery’s reception.

A week later, she received two £100 fines in the post.

Mrs Wright said: “When I got the letters I shot off down to the surgery. They said the fines would be vetoed because they could see that I had been there and it was okay.”

She said it isn’t made clear that patients are not allowed to park in the hospital car park for an appointment at one of the surgeries.

Mrs Wright said: “When I went there was nowhere in the surgeries’ car park because it’s for the Bell and Hart surgeries, doctors and sisters and there’s not enough room for other people. The staff at the surgery were very sympathetic because so many people have made that mistake. I’m not the kind of person to break the rules and I won’t be making that mistake again.”

She was supported by town councillor Ian Reissmann, who is chairman of the Townlands Steering Group.

He said: “NHS Property Services is aware of concerns about the way this operates and the difficulties people are having.

“There are issues with people getting tickets when they should not and the difficulties getting them rescinded.”

A spokesman for NHS Property Services said: “Proceeds from penalty charge notices are retained by Smart Parking and this model of operating was chosen as the company is providing the parking management system, and its associated infrastructure, at no cost to the NHS.

“However, our parking arrangements are kept under constant review and if a different model is preferred, then changes can be made.”

Chris Hill, service delivery manager for NHS Property Services, said: “Our colleagues at Townlands have said parking availability is much better since the system was brought in.

“Although the car park reaches capacity at peak times, we’re very pleased that patients are finding it easier to get a space.

“This means fewer patients have been forced to park off-site and negotiate the steep slope to get to the hospital, which is particularly difficult for those with mobility problems.”

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