"Car parking notice for £100"

About: Royal Free Hospital

Royal Free should really have anticipated the problems caused by changing your car park charging scheme without thinking about how to announce the change to repeat users of the short stay/ drop off parking bays in front of the main entrance of the hospital. I am a regular visitor to the hospital as an IBD outpatient who has attended periodical appointments at the hospital since the beginning of 2013. For these visits I sometimes used public transport, other times I travelled by car to pick up special prescribed medicines that I can only obtain from your hospital. On the occasions when I drove in 2013 I used the short stay parking bays in front of the hospital which allowed free parking for up to 20 minutes, enough time for me to pick up medicines waiting for me at Lloyds Pharmacy. So I was utterly surprised when today I received a bill for £100 for using the same car park for 21 minutes, about the time it takes to drive in, park and drive out if using the bays for the 20 minutes allotted for free parking. One of your staff has since informed me that your hospital changed your car park charging scheme in October 2013, switching to an automated CCTV system that captures car registrations on entry and exit, charging for the entire duration of visits for bays that were previously free for up to 20 minutes. Expecting the scheme not to have changed since my last visit I did not pay at the machines. I can only assume that Royal Free either 1) neglected to think about or find a way to inform repeat visitors, such as outpatients of clinics for chronic illnesses, of the change. 2) Royal Free thinks it reasonable for repeat visitors to have to check whether the car park charging scheme has changed or not each time they come 3) the company you've contracted to administer the new system, a company called Parking Eye, advised you badly about the implementation of the scheme, with the hope of deliberately catching out repeat visitors like myself who quite reasonably expect the parking scheme not to have changed since their last visit. If the third is true it would not surprise me, in addition to ordinary profits from normal charging activity, £100 bills like this likely boost the margins of a car park management company, but the practice is exploitative and is unbecoming of a hospital with Royal Free's reputation. This is the problem with automated systems, if the hospital had opted for a standard pay and display scheme monitored by a warden, then a warden could have been on hand to explain the system change (a passenger waited in the car while I picked up the medication) and I'm sure the hospital would have instructed a warden to use their common sense and discretion in such cases.

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Response from Royal Free Hospital

Sorry to hear about this, could you please email us directly at rfh.communications@nhs.net so we can get the car parking manager to look into this further for you? Many thanks.

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