07:11 Thursday 12 December 2013

Relief for patients as Queen's suspends controversial parking fines

Written byLAURA HAMMOND

11/11/13 Parking Problems - Queen's Hospital, Belevedere Rd,, Burton 11/11/13 Parking Problems - Queen's Hospital, Belevedere Rd,, Burton

BOSSES at Queen’s Hospital have launched a review into a controversial new parking system which has left countless people facing fines – and pledged all penalties will be suspended while it takes place.

Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has received a raft of complaints since the confusing system was installed at the end of October, with many visitors claiming it was not fit for purpose.

Now chief executive Helen Ashley has said penalties levied on vulnerable people caught out by the system were ‘wholly unacceptable’ and offered ‘sincere apologies’ to anyone who had been hit.

Mrs Ashley said: “I would like to sincerely apologise to patients and visitors for the disruption the new system has caused them and to assure the public that we are undertaking an immediate review. We understand that visiting hospital can be an anxious time and so we want to ensure people’s visit to hospital goes as smoothly as possible.”

The Parking Eye system, which works on the basis of automatic number place recognition, requires people to enter their registration number and length of stay into the machine at the end of their visit. At no point is the motorist told how much they owe.

It has led to dozens of people either overpaying to make sure they are covered, or facing a fine if they fail to remember their exact time of arrival.

Critics have complained that people were likely to be distracted by other matters when they visited hospital, and it was unfair to expect people to use the system correctly.

Others have complained it was difficult to use for elderly people – or even just those who are inexperienced with the system.

Mrs Ashley said: “We are continually listening to feedback and are aware that the system installed doesn’t meet the needs of our patients and visitors. We also recognise that the machines do not notify people of the time they have arrived or how much they need to pay which has resulted in a number of patients and visitors being given parking charge notices through no fault of their own, which is wholly unacceptable.”

One woman received three penalty notices in the same week as a result of confusion over the system.

Another woman, who featured in the Mail last week, was terrified of receiving a fine when she failed to note the time when she rushed her three-month-old granddaughter to hospital with breathing difficulties.

Lee Wilkins contacted the Mail after his parents were sent a fine for paying incorrectly. He said: “It’s just not right and it has got to be stopped. They are making a lot of money for nothing.”

And Measham resident Jillian Parkinson, who received a fine after facing confusion with the machinery, said: “I am astonished that the hospital authorities have shown such a lack of sensitivity in installing or allowing such a system to be introduced at the hospital.

“Vulnerable, fragile, elderly, disabled and, quite often grieving, patients so not cope at all well with such a system.”

The hospital has now encouraged people who feel their fines are unfair to submit an appeal via www.parkingeye.co.uk/appeal or call 0844 247 2982 so that the circumstances can be investigated further.

If people are dissatisfied with the result, they are encouraged to call 01283 511511 extension 5359

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