Suspected heart attack patient hit with £100 parking fine for overstaying while undergoing emergency tests

Andrew Gray has been fined �100 for parking at South Tyneside District Hospital when he had rushed in when he took ill.
Andrew Gray has been fined �100 for parking at South Tyneside District Hospital when he had rushed in when he took ill.

A man who got held up in hospital because it was thought he was having a heart attack is furious at being hit with a £100 parking bill.

Andrew Gray, 30, says he has given up on a seven-month battle with the private firm which operates the car park at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Mr Gray overstayed his time in the car park after going to the hospital on April 28 last year because he had been having chest pains.

He said doctors carried out ECG and blood tests, as well as giving him a chest X-ray to determine what was wrong with him.

Mr Gray, a business development manager at the Energy Checking Company Ltd in South Shields, left the hospital after midnight, and says he didn’t realise he had overrun the two hours of parking he had paid for and needed to pay extra.

He said: “When I got the fine notice from ParkingEye, I didn’t know what was going on because I’d paid for my parking when I first got to the hospital.

“I called them and they told me I’d been there an hour longer than I’d paid for. I was having ECGs, blood tests and X-rays and I was worried there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t sitting looking at my watch.”

He added: “They told me I could appeal the fine but I just ended up having to pay more.”

Mr Gray said his appeal was rejected and his fine was increased to £70.

He continued his battle with Parking Eye, and his fine was then doubled to £140 and he was threatened with a court date.

He added: “There was no compassion. They just see everything in black and white and I think it’s pointless even having an appeals procedure because there was no way they were going to waive the fine.

“If I’d known I’d stayed too long, I would have paid up. It was only an extra £1.60.

“I appealed against it, but they just wouldn’t listen.

“The mediator said they would lower the fine to £100 if I agreed to pay or they’d take me to court, and I was scared it could have ended with me having pay something like £400.

“It’s not about the money and I’m not looking to get it back. I just want to warn people to be extra vigilant because they don’t care what the circumstances are, they just want to make as much profit as they can.

“Charging someone £100 for an hour of parking at a car park that costs £3.60 for 24 hours is just disgusting.”

Tests revealed Mr Gray had a severe chest infection and a trapped nerve in his spine, causing muscle spasms in his chest. He says doctors told him the symptoms would have felt like a heart attack.

A ParkingEye spokesman said: “Mr Gray received a parking charge as he stayed in the car park for longer than the amount of time he paid for.

“We understand that, in difficult hospital circumstances, motorists may not pay for the correct amount of time initially and therefore the ability to pay for additional time at the end of their stay is available.”