There is a “mutinous” atmosphere amongst governors at the Royal Preston and Chorley hospitals over the confusion caused by the introduction of a new parking system, according to one member of the governing council.
Patient complaints about lengthy queues sparked a flurry of emails between governors - individuals elected to represent local communities - and hospital bosses earlier this week.
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Speaking anonymously about the exchanges, one governor said that the issue had “left a bad taste” and condemned “the lack of thought about vulnerable, elderly, disabled and sick patients.”
“I have never known governors as mutinous about anything as this. We were promised people would be on hand to help [with the transition],” he added.
In correspondence seen by the local democracy service, another governor told Lancashire Teaching Hospitals’ (LTH) finance director, Paul Havey, that his claim that the system was functioning properly by Thursday was “out of touch with reality”.
“I would fear for your health if you were to read out your statement in the entrance [at Chorley Hospital], given the complaints,” the e-mail read.
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Another member claimed that the pitfalls warned of by the governing body were “ignored”, while a message to LTH chair, Sue Musson, said that the trust had failed to monitor the implementation of the new system by the private company brought in to run it, Parking Eye.
“Pay stations and cameras [were] installed the day before [they went] live. Proper testing could not be carried out in that time, as we were assured it would be,” one governor said.
South Ribble councillor - and LTH governing body member - Ken Jones blasted the way the changes had been handled.
“The whole thing was done without any consultation with public governors. It was presented to us as a fait accomplis.
“There is no doubt that the old system was clapped out, but at least users could communicate with someone at the end of an intercom. We were told staff would be available - but there’s been nobody.
“Whatever your views on paying to park, it shouldn’t look like this,” Mr. Jones added.
Paul Havey, finance director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We apologise to the patients and visitors who have experienced difficulties using the new car park system. The old barrier and pay & display system was outdated and its IT had become obsolete, so we took the decision to replace it with more modern technology that offers car park users a wider range of convenient ways to pay for parking.
“We installed the new system before Christmas when all our car parks are always quieter, so that we could minimise disruption. There were a few initial technical issues most of which have now been fully resolved.
“We are continuously monitoring how the system is operating, and we will relocate some machines to busier areas to reduce queues, as well as installing additional machines and erecting shelters over some machines that are outside.
“Both our teams and Parking Eye staff have been working in our car parks, supporting people to use the new pay machines.
“We are assured that Parking Eye will comply with contractual arrangements, and we will monitor this as we do all other contracts. Parking Eye will only issue charge notices to people who do not pay their car park fee, or who park outside a designated space.
“The appointment and contractual management of a car park system provider is the responsibility of our facilities and procurement teams, however we did actively seek input from a range of individuals and groups during the selection process.”
A Parking Eye spokesperson said:
“Motorists are able to pay at the kiosks or online via good2go.com. New users of good2go can register before, during or up to 24 hours after their visit to the car park and will get their first visit free of charge. Each time you park thereafter payment will be dealt with automatically. All kiosks are operational and we have plans in place to install additional kiosks in the coming weeks in areas of high footfall. This will help address many of the concerns.”
“Parking Eye is a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) and operates an audited appeals process, motorists are encouraged to appeal if they feel there are mitigating circumstances.”