Disabled mum accuses parking firm of ‘preying on vulnerable’ at South Shields hospital

Mary Thompson with her fine.
Mary Thompson with her fine.

A disabled pensioner is furious at being given a parking ticket as she went to collect her poorly son from hospital.

Mary Thompson received the £70 fine from ParkingEye – the firm which runs the parking at South Tyneside District Hospital, South Shields, on Wednesday afternoon.

South Tyneside District Hospital.

South Tyneside District Hospital.

The 82-year-old Blue Badge holder from Harton Village, South Shields, had driven to the hospital, in Harton Lane, after her epileptic son, who she cares for, had suffered seizures the night before.

With no disabled parking bays close to the hospital’s entrance left, or any other spots, she parked on the road instead.

Mrs Thompson said: “I have arthritis, so can’t walk far and my son can’t go far without having seizures either. So I needed to be close by. There was no space anywhere for me to park though.

“You only get 20 minutes to pick someone up, but I had to go inside to speak with my son’s doctors about getting him transferred to another hospital for treatment.”

“I parked in a safe place at the end of a long row of cars, but I was on a yellow line, so I ended up with a ticket.”

The ParkingEye system was introduced at the hospital in January 2014.

Since then the Gazette has received a number of complaints from patients and visitors who have been caught out and fined.

Mrs Thompson says she’s refusing to pay the fine and has tried to contact ParkingEye, but can never get in touch with a real person.

She said: “It’s ridiculous that you ring up and all get is an answering machine message. People are at the hospital for a reason. They’re preying on the vulnerable.”

After being contacted by the Gazette, hospital bosses have now agreed to get the fine waived, and say they’re sorry Mrs Thompson had difficulty finding a parking space.

Steve Jamieson, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s director of corporate services and estates, said: “We are extremely sorry Mrs Thompson had difficulty in finding a parking space on the hospital site, in particular a disabled bay close to the access points.

“If Mrs Thompson provides us with details of her car registration, we will contact ParkingEye immediately to request the parking charge notice be cancelled, and we sincerely hope her son makes a rapid recovery.”

A ParkingEye spokesman said: “Mrs Thompson failed to park in a parking space at South Tyneside Hospital and so was issued with a charge.”