Like many, I have been shocked by the plight of nurses facing parking charges and – worse – massive parking fines. There are parking issues at all my local hospitals. 25 years ago, I had lunch with one of my CIPD student group. This necessitated my picking her up from Addenbrookes Hospital, in Cambridge, where she worked at that time, so she wouldn’t lose the parking space she’d secured on early arrival that morning. When my aunt died in hospital in North Wales 3 years ago, my mum and I had stressful trips to the hospital – in a situation which was already stressful enough – in order to view her body and do the admin which death of a loved one presents you with. Parking was problematic on each trip and the hospital was miles from the nearest town.
I have no easy answers to all this. Maybe hospitals need to start thinking about 24/7 reliable public transport, so that staff and patients are less reliant on their cars? The only other option is more parking and that requires space, which isn’t always available.
26 years ago, my son Noel – then aged about 20 months – was at the childminder. I was at home writing an assignment for my CIPD qualification. He developed a bad cough and high temperature. In the space of 4 hours, we went from the childminder to the GP and then 6 miles to A and E. A cautious GP thought there might be something seriously wrong and was taking no chances. Armed with a letter, I drove to the hospital (Addenbrookes in Cambridge) with my wheezing, red-faced infant in the back. On arrival, a man at the barrier looked into the car, paused for 2 seconds and let me in to a central area used – I think – for emergencies only. I parked and took my son into A and E. A nurse gave him a whopping dose of Calpol and his temperature went down visibly as we watched. He was kept in overnight – at which point he was declared “a toe rag” and despatched by the doctor doing the ward round. Neither my son nor I had slept much that night and I witnessed some very ill and distressed infants and saw and heard much about the plight of their relatives. A grim education. I was lucky – it turned out Noel just had croup and it soon passed.
When I got to the car, I noticed for the first time all the huge notices saying you weren’t allowed to park there for any length of time. My car had been there at least 16 hours at that point – and overnight. Luckily, no grim missives on the screen. I drove Noel and I out of the emergency area, back into the outside world. The man on the barrier clocked me again; a moment’s pause and we were off. No fine, no harsh words.
I do wonder if this would happen today. At a really stressful time, someone just took a punt and made a decision not to hassle me or impose the rules. Sometimes, that’s the right judgement call.