On visiting the Heath Hospital last week, a relative of a dying patient was hit with a £70 fee for overstaying parking times by 34 mins when her relative passed away.

Lisa Baker described the charge as ‘a tax on the sick and the dying’ after visiting the hospital’s resus unit to sit with her cousin who was expected to die imminently from a stroke.

While the team were dealing with another patient in the next bay, after sitting with him for over 4 hours, her cousin passed away quietly with her holding his hand.  She stayed a little longer as other relatives arrived after a long, tiring journey from the Midlands due to a traffic accident on the M4.  The resus team were occupied trying to save the life of the other patient, so even had car parking been at the top of Lisa’s mind, they would not have been free to deal with parking issues.

Just over a week later, still grieving the loss of her cousin, Lisa today received a £70 charge for over staying at the car park by 34 minutes, causing her additional stress.

Lisa said:

“I cannot believe I have been given a bill for staying with my dying cousin.  This is unbelievable in 2022 and shows a level of callousness beyond all comprehension. ”

Parking Eye, who run the hospital’s car park, defended their actions to her, telling Lisa over the telephone that the service is automated, the hospital asks them to set these rules, charge these fees and that the money they take raises funds for the NHS.

Lisa said:

“The company seem to think it’s ok because it’s automated, they defended the process and while they do have a formal written appeals process, it’s unbelievable I should have to relive the absolutely hellish experience of sitting with someone and watching them die, when all they would have to do is telephone the hospital to verify the reason for the visit and cancel the ticket.  I’ve paid their fee because I don’t need the additional stress of dealing with them, and the staff working in resus have better things to do than deal with parking issues.

“Seeing as they wanted me to relive it and write it down, as an Editor, I thought I’d write it down here instead and share Parking Eye’s views with my Welsh readers so they know what to expect should they find themselves in the position of having a relative suffer a fatal stroke.  Furthermore, seeing as Parking Eye claim all the money goes to the NHS, I will be putting in an FOI request to NHS Wales to confirm this.

“I will also be making a formal complaint to both Parking Eye and to the Heath Hospital, and raising the issue with my AM, Sarah Murphy.  With vulnerable relatives, a cost of living crisis and post-covid, it seems incredible that this blatant profiteering is seen as an acceptable source of fund-raising and exploits people when they are at their lowest.”

Update – Ticket Cancelled following review of case, 18 August

A Parkingeye spokesperson issued the following statement today, saying:

“Parkingeye has partnered with The University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff for four years to significantly improve how its car parks operate.

“During this time there has been investment in modern consumer-facing systems which has enhanced accessibility and made parking at the hospital easier and safer for staff, patients and visitors. The system is designed to ensure the efficiency and smooth operation of the hospital by ensuring that patients, visitors and staff park in their allocated car parks.

“There is significant and clear signage throughout advising patients and visitors that they are entitled to four hours free parking, those looking to stay longer are advised to enter their registration details at the 34 terminals at various receptions and lift lobbies throughout the hospital to receive a further two hours of parking.

“The motorist stayed for longer than the maximum four-hour period without registering their details and therefore received a parking charge notice, however following a review of the case we have cancelled as a gesture of goodwill.

“We would add that Parkingeye operates a BPA (British Parking Association) audited appeals process, which motorists can use to appeal their parking charge. If anyone has mitigating circumstances then we would encourage them to appeal.”