Wiltshire Publications

More complaints over RUH parking

Story posted on

THE parking system at Bath’s Royal United Hospital has come under fire again with dozens of visitors complaining about unfair charges,  

White Horse News has received numerous complaints against ParkingEye, who run the car parks on behalf of the RUH. The complaints include people are being fined despite paying the correct amount or if they type in the wrong registration number by mistake; concerns over the confusing system; poor signage; and the complicated and lengthy appeals system.

More than one person has claimed that the system is “designed to deliberately entrap people” to maximise the fines.

“I’m happy to pay for parking even though it’s a bit questionable when you are visiting loved ones in hospital, but it seems that the complicated system of fines is simply designed to make money for ParkingEye,” said one driver. 

Of particular concern is how Blue Badge holders are treated. They have to register their Blue Badges at reception which can be difficult for people with mobility problems and if they are parking at A&E, they have to go to reception at the other end of the hospital. The parking office at the main reception is also not always open. Several people have been fined despite registering their Blue Badges.

Patients and visitors say the system adds extra stress to people who are often visiting the hospital for appointments, tests or seeing loved ones, often in stressful circumstances, and say too many mistakes are being made. 

Several drivers have also said they have paid the fine even though they didn’t think it was due, because the appeals system is so difficult. 

One reader said he has asked his doctor to refer him to Salisbury or Swindon hospitals, in preference to the RUH, because the car parks are not run by ParkingEye. Some readers mentioned that other hospitals in the area, such as Southmead Hospital in Bristol, do not encounter such parking problems as there is a car registration recognition system which automatically lets drivers know how much to pay on exit.  

White Horse News raised the issues mentioned by local people on all the problems they have experienced with parking at the RUH, with both ParkingEye and the RUH.

The Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust replied, “The Trust provides managed car parking on site for patients, visitors and staff, including free parking for blue badge holders and concessions for visitors and patients requiring frequent attendance over a lengthy period. ParkingEye manage the parking machines on site. In response to patient and visitor feedback we are currently working with ParkingEye to review the ticketing machines to look at ways of making the process easier, including recent trialling of a new type of machine, which we hope to install over the coming months.

“Whilst blue badge holders can park for free in designated spaces close to the main entrance, or visitor spaces anywhere on site, blue badge holders must first register their vehicle and badge details with us – this can be done at the main hospital reception in person or by calling  01225 826274 (drivers who telephone will need to present their blue badge for validation at RUH reception when they next visit us). Once registered and confirmed, a blue badge must still be displayed in the vehicle while parked. Each blue badge holder can register up to three vehicles.

“If a blue badge has been renewed or replaced since it was originally registered it will need to be re-registered with us here at the RUH in order to continue to park without charge.

“We advise anyone who wishes to challenge a parking charge notice to follow the process outlined in their letter and appeal to ParkingEye, which will investigate their circumstances. Escalated appeals may be made via POPLA (Parking On Private Land Appeals). Our Patient Advisory Liaison Service responds to complaints and assists people who have contacted us with other parking-related enquiries. We also liaise with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to support appeals, we have a parking enquiries desk in our main entrance area and a parking enquiry team to assist with any queries or issues.”

The response in full from Media Zoo, PR specialists for ParkingEye, said, “A ParkingEye spokesperson said: “Due to repeated abuse of the blue badge parking bays, a system is needed to ensure only blue badge holders are using these spaces. The most effective way to save time and hassle for patients & visitors is to register at reception with their blue badge, they only have to register once which will cover them for each visit, until their blue badge expires.

“ParkingEye operates a BPA (British Parking Association) audited appeals process, which all motorists are entitled to use if they feel they have mitigating circumstances. All evidence presented will be fairly considered.”

White Horse News email to Parking Eye and the RUH

White Horse News raised the following issues with Parking Eye and the RUH. Their replies in full are above.

• The system is very confusing especially as people are usually using it at a time of stress.

 • People are being fined despite paying the correct amount.

 • You are fined even if you make a mistake typing in your registration number. 

 • When you tap in your registration number, the machine comes up with a £2 fee; you only get the correct fee if you then alter your arrival time. This makes it very easy to make a mistake, again particularly if you arrived during a time of stress. 

 • More than one person has claimed that the system is deliberately confusing and is “designed to deliberately entrap people”. The system makes you put in your time of arrival – and you are fined if you make a mistake – and yet the system could easily tell you what time you arrive.  And if you make a mistake typing in your registration number, the system could simply tell you that it doesn’t recognise that number.

 • The signage is poor and confusing.

 • The size of the on-screen instructions. They are not easy to read.

 • People are having to pay for the time looking for a parking space. 

 • There is a complicated and lengthy appeals process. We have had several people tell us they have just paid the fine when they have paid for parking because they can’t be bothered or haven’t got the time to appeal.

 • We have had one reader to say he has asked his doctor to refer him to Salisbury or Swindon hospitals, in preference to the RUH, because the car parks are not run by ParkingEye.

Of particular concern is how Blue Badge holders are treated. The issues raised include:

• Blue Badge holders having to register their Blue Badges at reception which can be difficult for people with mobility problems.

• If you are parking at the car park closest to A&E, you have to go to reception at the other end of the hospital in order to register your Blue Badge. 

• Main reception isn’t always open to register your Blue Badge.

• The Blue Badge parking bay outside A&E only allows you to park for 20 minutes. One person we have spoken to was fined for overstaying there when they were looking after someone with mental health issues who was having problems and couldn’t be left alone. He has paid the fine and is appealing but has to go through a long appeals process when he is a Blue Badge holder.

• We have had several cases of people being fined despite registering their Blue Badges.

In the Great Western Hospital in Swindon Blue Badge holders simply park in Disabled Parking Bays and display their Blue Badges. If all the Disabled Bays are taken, all Blue Badge holder needs to do is go to reception to claim a free pass for the day.  Why the difference between the two hospitals?

One Response to More complaints over RUH parking

  1. Erica Watson

    October 27, 2019 at 10:28 am

    The RUH Chief Executive needs to address this as a matter of urgency. Passing the issue to Pals is not the answer. Maybe it can be put on the Agenda for the next Board meeting? Patients should come first and not treated as a source of income.