Lung cancer patient wrongly fined due to hospital car park CCTV problem

A patient at the Trust which runs Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals was wrongly fined by the car park ANPR cameras.

A patient at the Trust which runs Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals was wrongly fined by the car park ANPR cameras. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN/ARCHANT

A lung cancer patient was wrongly given a parking fine because the hospital car park CCTV did not read his number plate correctly.

Healthcare bosses apologised after details of what happened to a patient – known only as Mr R – were discussed at an East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) board meeting.

In a statement, Mr R – who has advanced lung cancer and has been receiving treatment from the Trust since 2017 – said he had "nothing but admiration for the whole of the hospital" but was concerned his elderly mother could have felt pressured into paying the £70 fine.

Jonathan Stewart, deputy director of estates and facilities at ESNEFT, said: "Visits to hospital are invariably anxious times and the last thing we'd want to do is add to that anxiety through something as mundane as car parking.

"In this particular instance, we'd like to offer our sincere apologies to the patient."

Mr Stewart explained the automatic number plate recognition cameras are only around 85% accurate, and there had been a "disconnect" between the details entered into the machine and the details detected by the cameras.

Mr R was able to get the fine rescinded as he had a copy of his receipt. He also thanked hospital staff – including a cancer nurse and the travel plan team – for their help.

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Mr Stewart said that he had spoken to the parking department after Mr R was asked to confirm that he had a hospital appointment as part of the appeal process.

"That is not appropriate," he said. "They've been told they do not ask that question and that should never happen again."

He added: "We've got arrangements in place for longer-term patients — such as cancer patients – with return appointments at regular intervals, where we can give reduced car parking arrangements.

"Our travel plan officers are always pleased to assist. And I think in this case, thankfully, we're able to intervene and,  quash the process, although it had gone further than we would have liked to have done at that time."