Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Covid jab patients in parking blunder

Covid jab patients in parking blunder

SIX elderly patients were issued warning letters after parking longer than 20 minutes at Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley while getting their covid-19 vaccinations. 

This was despite an agreement with the hospital that its “grace” period would be extended to an hour due to the vaccination programme taking place at the Bell and Hart Surgeries.

Hospital patients can normally park for 20 minutes free or they have to enter their vehicle registration at reception for longer visits or appointments.   

Patients at the surgeries cannot park at the hospital but an arrangement was reached with Saba Park Services, which monitors the car park, as they must wait in the surgery for 20 minutes after getting a jab to ensure there are no ill-effects before they go home. 

Town councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, who was helping with the parking arrangements on December 15, also received a warning letter. 

He said that he was told by the hospital that using its car park wouldn’t be a problem. 

He said: “Saba Park Services had been asked to widen the window to allow a certain amount of time to park there.

“Then people received a warning letter saying if it happens again they will be fined.

“I was pretty annoyed —  I emailed the company to say, ‘Look, this was all arranged by the hospital and this shouldn’t be happening.’  

“Six people had letters and, of course, if you are of a certain age you are going to get worried about it. 

“This shouldn’t have happened — the manager of the hospital had an agreement with Saba.”

Cllr Gawrysiak said the issue had been resolved in time for patients to receive their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was administered on Wednesday and Thursday this week. 

Saba took over enforcement of the car park in December 2019 from Smart Parking, which was ordered off the site earlier in he year after numerous complaints that it was fining people unfairly.

Saba was awarded an initial three-year contract by NHS Property Services, which is responsible for the site, and has continued to use the automatic number plate recognition cameras.

A spokesman for NHS Property Services said: “Following feedback from tenants concerned that the car park at Townlands Memorial Hospital was being utilised by non-hospital users, we informed Saba to re-start issuing parking charge notices from December 11.

“However, with the expansion of the vaccination programme, the local team and clinical colleagues agreed to provide car parking provision while the GP surgery carried out the vaccination programme.

“Unfortunately, warning notices continued to be issued. This situation was rectified immediately. We have contacted Saba to confirm that no notices have been issued or will be issued at this stage.”

Saba declined to comment.

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