Subterranean Hospital Car Park Blues

How was your weekend? Mine was…interesting. DJ went to Wales to visit his Mum and yours truly was left to her own devices. I didn’t think there was too much mischief I could get into, but that was my first mistake.

With the economic uncertainty hitting my line of work, I’m on a drive to be ultra-frugal and find cheap ways to entertain myself. So is an old school friend who is jobless, so we had a great frugal day at her home on Saturday having a delicious home-cooked lunch and a good old chinwag.

On Sunday afternoon I decided to visit a lady I know who’s had a heart operation. Knowing how expensive hospital car parks can be, I checked the charges on the internet first and found I could park for free for 45 minutes but after that I would be charged £3. Ouch. It would have to be a quick visit. There is campaign afoot to axe hospital car parking fees altogether – as they plan to do in Scotland – after criticism of how much trusts were making from car parking. But currently there is a £3 a day cap on charges. Still I don’t know how people who have to visit the hospital regularly cope with the expense, not to mention the hassle when they may be very sick themselves or worrying about their loved ones.

Fortunately my lady was feeling a lot better and about to go home. After half an hour I made my excuses and left, ensuring I could escape from the car park for free. I got into the car and turned the engine on but remembered I’d forgotten to get my ticket validated. I turned off the engine and rushed to the machine. Hooray – I was in time and wouldn’t have to pay! I raced back to the Micra.

Disaster struck. It wouldn’t start. It wasn’t the car but these stupid electronic keys we have. To turn the engine on you put your foot on the brake and turn a switch but the key has to be on you and working. For some reason it would let me in the car but wouldn’t let me switch the engine on. The battery must have been on the blink. I tried every trick I could think of but nothing would budge it. I even got in and out of the car, locking and unlocking it to see if that would spark it into life. Nothing.

In the dark deserted car park I began to panic. What could I do? I couldn’t leave the car there – the hospital is in the middle of nowhere, miles from home and overnight I had no idea how much the fees would rack up to be. Maybe I would be charged extra to release it, too. I had no idea. My grocery shopping was in the boot – at least it was too cold for it to spoil. I went into the cardiac unit reception to get help, but it was deserted too.

On the verge of tears I rang DJ. As luck would have it, he was on his way home – only an hour away. AND by some miracle he had his car key. He calmed me down, telling me he would come and try to start the car. I prayed his key would work and we wouldn’t have to call the RAC recovery vehicle out. Sensibly DJ told me to speak to a car park attendant and explain what had happened. I got through to security at the hospital on my mobile – thank God for these things – and they kindly said I could speak to them through the intercom at the barrier and they would lift it for me without charge.

Eventually DJ turned up and the engine sprung into life. I have never been so glad to see anybody in my life! And luckily the car park ticket worked and we got out without having to speak to security. What a relief. I dread to think what would have happened if his key hadn’t worked or he’d been away longer. Although I checked later and found out it would have cost me £6 to leave the car there overnight, which wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Have you been stuck in a car park and had to pay extra fees? Do you think hospital car park charges are fair? Leave a comment and let me know.

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11 Responses to Subterranean Hospital Car Park Blues

  1. Christine says:

    I\’d have asked you if you needed to take the car to go to the hospital but you did mention you had been shopping so two trips for the price of one – not bad. I fear that free parking anywhere is something that you only find if you are lucky as most car parks charge nowadays after a brief free period. But hospital parking is a very emotive issue. I suppose that charging helps to ensure that space is used more effectively by those who must visit and stops people who are not attending hospital using it. After all there is only so much available and charging is one way of ensuring that space is not hogged by the selfish. I would suggest that frugal ensures that your car is kept in tip top condition – if you don\’t use it regularly the battery will run down. Perhaps letting it run whilst parked at home every couple of days would be a good idea? And could you take a course in some DIY so that at least you don\’t panic if something goes wrong. Like me you may never be any good with your hands but it helps to have some idea of what the cause might be.

  2. piper says:

    Unfortunately the hospital really is in the middle of nowhere although there is a bus that goes, but yes I thought I\’d kill two birds with one stone and pop in after I\’d done the shopping. The problem with these electronic keys is that replacing the battery is very expensive. I think it was about £50 the last time we did it. It\’s a con really. Wish we just had normal keys.

  3. Kerri says:

    I live right next to a hospital (actually my house is built on what used to be the A&E dept – but that\’s another topic) and there has been a lot of debate in the local press about charges they have introduced. This has had a knock on effect that visitors park in the residential streets surrounding the hospital which is causing a lot of problems for traffic flow (some of the roads are Victorian and just not meant to have 2 rows of traffic parked along them) plus people can\’t get to park near their own home. There is a scheme that my doctors surgery runs where it shares a pay & display car park with a leisure complex. If you are visiting the doctors, when you go in to register for your appt they will give you a parking ticket for 1hrs free stay. In urban hospitals I think a scheme like that would be helpful, if you are visiting a hoppital reception should verify the visitor you are going to see and then give you a ticket for your visit. This would help stop hospital car parks being mis-used. I know Hospitals need to get money from somewhere and this is helped by parking charges but as Piper points out, this can really add up for people visiting long term sick and it\’s the last thing they want to worry about. Perhaps in these cases there could be a permit scheme set up like residential permits. That way immediate family (ie those who are likely to be visiting often) can have a permit for their vehicle without having to worry about costs.

  4. steve says:

    if this i what you call a bad day you live a shallow empty life, id go on but it would be wasted on your kind

  5. David says:

    if you can afford one one of these new cars with that kind of key whats £6.oo . you peaple make me sick .

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