Nurse at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital hit with parking fine on return from long Covid

She had been off with long Covid after working on the critical care frontline at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.

Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 9:46 am

With the illness having left her with problems walking, and with a disabled son whose needs meant she sometimes had to leave work quickly, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals had given her a wide-ranging parking permit for the giant hospital complex near Firth Park to help her back into her job.

But when she returned to work, she was handed a shock – when she was issued a parking ticket for parking in a section of the site run by Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust, which looks after patients with mental health, learning disability or substance misuse needs, runs the Longley Centre at the site, and employs parking company VCS – Vehicle Control Services – to enforce and issue fines.

The Longley Centre. The Longley Centre, Norwood Grange Drive. A Sheffield Teaching Hospital Nurse was fined and threatened with legal action after she was issued a parking ticket for parking in a section of the site run by Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The nurse, who has asked The Star not to name her, saw the fine increased from £60 to £170 – and then received court papers, adding to her upset, as she failed to pay the fine in time as she tried to find a way to appeal.

Warning over parking at Longley Centre

Now, she has urged others to beware, and says she had no idea she was at risk of a fine when she parked.

She said: “I work in critical care and parked near the Vickers entrance in the Longley site.

Sheffield's Northern General Hospital. Picture Scott Merrylees. A Sheffield Teaching Hospital Nurse was fined and threatened with legal action after she was issued a parking ticket for parking in a section of the site run by Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

“I had been off with Covid for a few weeks and when I returned in a phased return due to long Covid, I parked and walked the short distance as I had been struggling and parking is difficult at the best of times.

"Returning to my car after my shift I had received a card on my window stating photographic evidence had been taken of my car.

"A couple of weeks later I received a fine for £60. I appealed this and didn’t hear anything back until I received a letter stating that the charge had increased to £170. I emailed and explained I hadn’t received anything from them and that this was an unfair response.

"I then received papers I needed to fill in before January 13. I drove, after my shift, with my autistic son to hand deliver the letter on time to the address on their letter, Europa estates – which we couldn’t find. I emailed the evidence instead as I needed to get my son home after an hour of trying to find the address.

The Longley Centre. A Sheffield Teaching Hospital Nurse was fined and threatened with legal action after she was issued a parking ticket for parking in a section of the site run by Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

"Again they didn’t respond.”

She then received a letter this month to say the matter had been passed onto a solicitor, and was warned she would be receiving court papers.

She added: “I am so upset and disheartened that a company can fine NHS workers, especially in our current climate, and charge £170.

"I was simply going to work! And now I have to pay £170 which I just don’t have.”

She said Sheffield Teaching Hospitals support had been amazing, with free parking during the pandemic. She said: “I would 100 per cent warn people about parking in the Longley Centre. It should be clearer. I thought I had a parking permit. It has caused so much anxiety.”

VCS agrees to drop legal action and reduces fine

VCS has told the Star it will drop the legal action and reduce the fine back to £60, after we approached the company and the health trust and explained the circumstances

The company said the car park at the Longley Centre did not fall within the scope of the NHS permit that the nurse was displaying in her car, so she did not comply with the advertised terms and conditions for parking in that location, which correctly resulted in a Parking Charge Notice being issued.

It said in a statement: “We did respond to (the nurse’s) appeal using the email she had supplied to us via our online portal. We can only assume that she did not check her spam folder, which we inform an appellant to do so in our acknowledgement that is presented ‘on-screen’ immediately following submission of an appeal.

“However, in recognition of her circumstances, and as a gesture of goodwill, we are prepared to re-offer (the nurse) the opportunity to pay the discounted amount of the parking charge that applied at the outset. We shall be contacting (her) shortly to confirm this. In the meantime we have suspended any further recovery action from being taken to allow her to settle the parking charge at the discounted amount.”

Reviewing parking at Longley Centre

Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust provides services from the Longley Centre, next to the Northern General site – and is now reviewing its car parking system.

It has a free car park on its site where its staff and visitors are asked to display a permit – but it is a separate site and car park from the main hospital site, which is run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

SHSC said in a statement: “Our car park is managed by Vehicle Control Services Limited.

“As part of the running of our car park, we ask staff and visitors to display a valid permit which they can get from our team reception. This means they can park for free. The car park is for our clinical team at the Longley Centre and also provides safe access for emergency vehicles coming to the Longley Centre.

“We try to ensure that the rules for using the car park are clearly displayed around the area. However, anyone parking in our car park without a valid permit could face a fine from our car park management company. We are reviewing our car parking to ensure our barrier or entry systems are comprehensive and any penalties are proportionate."