Hospital parking chaos as doctors are fined on night shifts and disabled spaces removed

Birmingham resident helps NHS staff with parking charges

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The state of parking at hospitals in the UK has been laid bare by two separate incidents that resulted in a doctor being fined for a night shift overrunning ‘by minutes’ and a disabled woman who had to leave her child alone in A&E due to dedicated spaces having been removed.

Trainee GP Malinga Ratwatte was fined after leaving his hospital car park less than 10 minutes late after two separate 12.5-hour shifts.

He faced two parking tickets which demanded £100 each for the infringement.

According to Government guidance, NHS staff on night shifts should get free parking between 7.30pm and 8.00am.

At some trusts, as in Dr Ratwatte’s case, the allowance is extended to 8.30am.

But the fines show he left the car park just eight and nine minutes late.

Mr Ratwatte told Sky News: “I was shocked really, I couldn’t believe it.

“I felt it was quite inconsiderate and thoughtless on the part of the hospital.”

“I just felt very underappreciated. They could treat their staff members a little bit better given everything that doctors have done in the pandemic.”

He said that after he posted about the fines online the Chief Executive of the NHS trust contacted him and offered to cancel the charges.

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But he said that they haven’t agreed to extend the free parking allowance.

Mr Ratwatte tweeted: “How I am expected to teleport from a critical meeting about patient care to the car park is beyond me.

“It is absolutely abhorrent that even after Covid, NHS staff are being exploited and treated so poorly through predatory car parking fees and fines.”

Meanwhile, a disabled woman in Salisbury was left in distress when she discovered that the disabled parking spaces at A&E had been removed.

It meant she had to leave her 11-year-old son alone in the department in pain with a badly broken wrist while she went and found a different space.

Fiona Ryan said she parked in the turning circle, where an ambulance crew called out at her.

She explained: “They asked me what would they do if they had six ambulances waiting, and I said it doesn’t actually matter if six are parked elsewhere if they are only waiting.

Ms Ryan, who is a blue badge holder with a chronic hip condition, told the Salisbury Journal: “They said you have to leave your son and park your car somewhere else.

“I had to leave him on his own in A&E with a broken wrist in a waiting room full of people he didn’t know, while I hobbled out to move my car.

“They made me feel awful about it. I said, ‘Absolutely not, I am not parking further away’.

“What am I supposed to do – call another ambulance to get me to A&E from the car park?”

Ms Ryan said that she was eventually allowed to park in one of the ambulance bays, but added: “Even if you are able-bodied, I believe you have to drop off your child in A&E and leave them there and park 400 metres away, if you can find a space.

“What are you going to do if it’s your baby that’s sick? Leave a baby on a chair?”

A spokesperson from the hospital said: “To ensure 24-hour safe and efficient access for emergency vehicles, the area outside our A&E entrance is designated as a public drop-off zone only.

“Our staff are always on hand to support patients with limited mobility. Similar to elsewhere across the hospital, disabled parking, distinct from patient drop off, is located at a short distance to an entrance.”

It comes after Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust re-introduced parking charges for hospital employees from April 1, due to changes in central funding.

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