Sisters Sarah Fleming and Teresa Davidson from Carlisle, were given 8 parking tickets in the Cumberland Infirmary car park
Two grieving daughters have spoken of their disgust after receiving a total of EIGHT parking tickets while sitting by the bedside of their dying mother.
Rosaleen Harris died on Christmas Day at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, aged 65.
But while her daughters Teresa Davidson and Sarah Fleming should have been making the most of their final days together, they said they were left battling with parking wardens.
Despite being given a special card to place in their car windows by hospital staff, attendants from UK Parking Control (UKPC) continued to issue £70 parking fines.
The two women, both from Carlisle, received a total of eight tickets between them in the space of a few days, despite repeated attempts to reason with the wardens.
Hospital bosses have now promised to rescind the tickets and speak to UKPC to avoid it happening to others.
But the daughters say it has added to their stress at a time when they should have been focused purely on their mum.
Rosaleen had been successfully battling cancer for about two years but took ill on December 21 and was rushed to hospital, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia.
Her family dashed to her bedside, and were told the devastating news that she had reached the end of her life.
They stressed that her care, on Beech A, was fantastic and staff went out of their way to make those final days as easy as possible.
But the parking fines have left them reeling. Teresa said: “From the Thursday we stayed with her all night. We didn’t want to leave.
“The Macmillan nurse gave us laminated cards with blue swans on to put in our car windows. They mean you have a relative who is in end of life care and they should leave you alone. They are used all over the country but UKPC didn’t acknowledge them.”
Teresa even saw a warden put a ticket on her sister’s car and confronted him to explain. “He was so rude. Really insensitive,” she said.
Even after that the tickets continued to come, with Teresa getting a total of three and Sarah five.
“At one point we took one ticket off the windscreen to take into the hospital and by the time we got back there was another. They must’ve known it was the same car,” said Sarah. One of the doctors from the ward even accompanied the family to reception to try and explain the situation.
Although North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust runs the infirmary, its PFI partner Interserve – a private management firm – is responsible for the pay and display patient and visitor car parks. Earlier this year it brought UKPC in to enforce new charges.
The trust has now apologised to the family and promised that the sisters will not have to pay the fines, which add up to hundreds of pounds.
A spokesman said: “We would like to firstly offer our sincere condolences to the family for their loss. In addition, we are sorry that the family received a parking charge while visiting their mother.
“We are already in discussion with our PFI partner about how situations such as this can be avoided in the future and we will ensure the family do not have to pay for their parking charges.”
Teresa and Sarah thanked hospital staff for the care their mum received, and condemned UKPC for the attitude of staff.
“The care our mum had was brilliant. We couldn’t fault it, the staff were like little angels,” said Teresa.
But Sarah added: “It’s just a shame the parking wardens can’t show a bit of compassion. They are taking family members away from their loved ones, and staff away from caring for them, to deal with parking fines. It’s absolutely appalling. Everyone was disgusted.
“One of the doctors got fined while she ran to the meter to get a ticket. It needs to stop.”
Rosaleen, of Harraby, is survived by husband Fred, three daughters, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Her funeral will take place on January 9 at the crematorium.
New figures have revealed almost £1m a year is paid out by patients, visitors and staff to park at north Cumbria’s hospitals – with more than half of the revenue going to private firm Interserve.
All revenue from patient and visitor parking at the Cumberland Infirmary – in the region of about £600,000 a year – goes to the company. The remainder, almost £400,000, from staff parking revenue in Carlisle and combined revenue in Whitehaven, goes to the hospital trust to be reinvested in patient care.