Huge hospital car-parking costs to visit ill wife

PUBLISHED: 13:41 07 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:34 06 May 2010

AN ELDERLY man from St Albans spent nearly £100 on hospital parking fees when visiting his wife and is now appealing against a fine imposed during one stay. John Hills, aged 78, visited his wife Rosemary twice a day at the Boleyn Ward in Hemel Hempstead

AN ELDERLY man from St Albans spent nearly £100 on hospital parking fees when visiting his wife and is now appealing against a fine imposed during one stay.

John Hills, aged 78, visited his wife Rosemary twice a day at the Boleyn Ward in Hemel Hempstead Hospital during her 16-day stay in July for a major operation.

His son Peter drove him to and fro and they spent a total of £96 on parking over that period as well as hiring a car for the visits at a further cost of just over £100.

Then towards the end of Mrs Hills' stay, they were fined £40 for not displaying a ticket in the car window. Peter, who is an optician in London, explained that he and his father did not have the correct money for the machine that day: "We were at the hospital to visit my mother; not to run around trying to find an outlet for change", he maintained.

Peter wrote to CP Plus, the car park operator at the hospital, at the end of last month asking them to consider dropping the fine and arguing that the family had paid enough towards the upkeep of the hospital car park.

Mrs Hills, who is now on the mend at home in Salisbury Avenue, said the ordeal was traumatic. She said, "I was pretty ill and this kind of trouble is the last thing you need. Visitors get fined for the smallest things, despite the fact that the staff car park next door to the ward was always empty."

A spokesperson for CP Plus said: "I understand that the last thing a family member wants to worry about is where to park their car but there are reduced rates available for long-stay visitors. Unfortunately, I don't think the Hills family have reasonable grounds for a refund".

A spokesperson for West Herts Hospital Trust which runs the hospital, also said there were concessions available for people visiting patients in certain conditions and added: "Our car-parking policy is reviewed on a regular basis and the current charging arrangements enables the trust to provide a managed car park service with car-parking attendants to assist visitors.

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