Elderly patients hit with parking fines after only two months of new system at North Leeds Medical Practice

90-year-old Emile Clavane has been using the surgery for more than 20 years and received a parking fine when picking up a prescription.
90-year-old Emile Clavane has been using the surgery for more than 20 years and received a parking fine when picking up a prescription.
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Elderly patients are being hit with parking fines after only two months of a new system being in place at North Leeds Medical Practice.

North Leeds Medical Practice, on Harrogate Road, introduced a new parking system on March 18 this year.

North Leeds Medical Practice has a new parking system but people are concerned that elderly patients are being fined.

North Leeds Medical Practice has a new parking system but people are concerned that elderly patients are being fined.

It works by capturing the registration number of a car when it enters the car park.

When people enter the surgery for an appointment or to collect a prescription, they are required to enter their registration number into a digital tablet in the reception area.

Once they have done this, the system should register them for a two-hour parking permit.

But patients have raised concerns that the new system has resulted in vulnerable and elderly patients getting parking fines simply for going to the doctors.

The new parking notice at North Leeds Medical Practice.

The new parking notice at North Leeds Medical Practice.

Peter Clavane was "shocked" when his 90-year-old father, Emile Clavane, was given a parking ticket at the surgery and his appeal was denied.

Mr Clavane, from Shadwell, said: "My dad has been using this car park for many years for himself and taking his late wife - my mum - to the doctors.

"He wasn't aware of the new system where he had to type in registration details. He went into the pharmacy for 15 minutes to collect a prescription and left.

"I explained all of this in my appeal. He is a 90-year-old man, his wife passed away on Christmas Day last year and he has a serious health condition.

"Taking all this into account, I was shocked that his appeal was rejected. I thought that the company's treatment of a law-abiding, recently widowed 90-year-old man was a disgrace."

His appeal has since been upheld after Mr Clavane left a message for Civil Enforcement Limited on May 28 to ask further challenge the parking fine.

It transpired that the company had not taken a letter provided by the pharmacy into account.

Though he is glad the appeal has been upheld at last, he is angry at the appeal process and the difficulties he had in contacting Civil Enforcement Limited.

Mr Clavane said: "You would think that they would show a bit of compassion. It has been very frustrating and the company are very hard to get hold of.

"This is a vulnerable person, who has recently had to pay out funeral fees after losing his wife, and who has been going to this doctors surgery for more than 20 years.

"The biggest reason people go to the doctors is ill health and they are the most vulnerable people. They have other things going on than registering their car.

"The surgery does have a lot of elderly people with mobility issues and they don't tend to be very good at change and technology. I think people will forget. My dad is used to going in on his own and he's on auto-pilot mode. He isn't good at technology and the staff should have taken that into account and reminded him.

"This is a doctors surgery at the end of the day. I can't get my head around fining people for using the car park. It's really, really unfair."

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Mr Shazad Hussain, 45, and his family live in Moortown and been going to the Harrogate Road surgery since 1991.

Since the new system was installed, the family have received three parking tickets in two months - despite Mr Hussain's insistence that they did register their vehicles.

The complaints manager said: "My parents are both in their 70s and have serious medical issues.

"My dad has dementia and high blood pressure and my mum is diabetic. They need to get to the surgery on a regular basis or I need to go there for them for things like prescriptions.

"Each time I have registered my car on the screen in the surgery and it has said that I have been given a permit. I know we registered but weeks later we were given a ticket anyway.

"It says we can pay £60 within 14 days or £100 within 28 days. Most of the patients are elderly and that is a lot of money. We have three separate fines. The company should have a heart."

He added that the most frustrating part of the whole experience was not being able to speak to anyone in person about the fines.

Mr Hussain said: "Since we got the first fine notice we have received letter after letter chasing us to pay. On that letter, there is a website and a phone number but there is no one to speak to in real life. It is just an automated pay line.

"I don't think the change has been thought through and it feels like the surgery is washing their hands of it by passing us onto the company - but the company are impossible to get hold off."

In a statement on their website, the surgery advised: "The car park of the Harrogate Surgery, is operated by a third-party, therefore we are unable to help with any specific queries or challenges to parking enforcement notifications/fines. All queries should be directed to the operator."

Both Mr Hussain and Mr Clavane said they had been informed by surgery staff that there have been quite a few people who have been fined since the introduction of the car park management system - including members of staff.

However, this has not been confirmed by the parking company or the GPs surgery.

In a statement, North Leeds Medical Practice said: "We’re sorry to hear that a small number of our patients have been affected by our recent changes to our car parking arrangements.

"We’ve worked very closely with our patient participation group to look at how we can solve the issues affecting the availability of parking on our site.

"We are committed to being good neighbours, therefore, we also wanted to address concerns raised by local residents about cars causing an obstruction in nearby streets."

It added: "Following feedback from our patient participation group we’ve introduced a free, permit-based system.

"Prior to introducing our new system, we have carried out an extensive exercise to ensure our patients are aware of the changes. This included a message on our website, patient information leaflets, large banner displays, improved signage on site and a text message to patients.

"We’ve also updated our self-check-in screens with a reminder to patients about how they access and use the car park.

"We’re committed to delivering the best possible care and wanted to reflect this when choosing a provider of the car parking solution. Again working with our patient participation group we selected Creative Parking as they are an approved British Parking Association operator.

"We’ll continue to reflect on comments we’ve received and if there are any concerns about the operator we’ll work with them to act on patient feedback. We’d very much welcome any suggestions about how we can maximise the use of our limited car parking space and will also seek views from our staff."

The Yorkshire Evening Post has contacted Civil Enforcement Ltd and Creative Car Park for comment.