"Charged £150 to park and doctor used Google"

About: Sunderland Royal Hospital

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Outrage over private car parks' self imposed fines for losses is nothing new. However,  we are not people who overstayed at a supermarket's car park. We are a couple who rushed to Sunderland Royal's A&E in the middle of the night and had the audacity to not ensure we had correct change for parking before attending to our emergency.  We tried to pay, but the system makes it impossible for those in late night emergency situations to actually pay. And now Parking Eye is taking us to court for £ 150 plus costs.  We were advised by 111 to go to the nearest A&E immediately. My husband has a rare genetic condition so this advice terrified us and the last thing we thought to do as we rushed to the car was grab correct change. After my husband was discharged, we tried to pay for the extra hour we were there. We only had a few pence so we went back inside to use the hospital's cash machine. Then we discovered the parking meters do not take notes or cards. We spent 15 minutes trying to find something that was open to break the £20 note the cash machine gave us (and this 15 minutes was added to our time using the car park). Everything was closed. We asked every hospital employee we saw for help, but were finally told by a woman at the A&E front desk to leave it because it had nothing to do with the hospital.  So we did.  We have now received a summons through small claims court on behalf of Parking Eye for £ 150 plus court costs. It's disgusting. We tried everything we could to pay for parking, then followed the advice of the A&E. If the hospital is going to insist upon leasing their carparks to predatory companies like Parking Eye, they need to make sure that there are reasonable methods of payment. People rushing to the hospital in the middle of the night should not have to be penalized so outrageously for not bringing their coin purses. In addition, while there, the ER doctor Googled my husband's condition and went on WebMD right in front of us. I realize his condition is extremely rare, but this was absolutely unacceptable and unprofessional. Even if the doctor had to look up my husband's condition, doing it in front of us on Google destroyed any illusion of faith we had in the care we received from the A&E. Luckily, the consulting surgeon who came down was very understanding, reassuring, and if he had used Google, he at least did it somewhere else. Despite the lovely surgeon, I feel extremely let down by Sunderland Royal. Save your money and go elsewhere if you're in an emergency situation.

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