"Incomprehensible parking system lets good service..."

About: North Tyneside General Hospital

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I spent yesterday evening in A&E with my husband who had a football related injury. The care we receieved was perfectly good... but the parking system is totally incomprehensible. As this was not a planned visit I didn't have sufficient change for the machine, there was no way to get change and so I tried to navigate the pay by phone system. I consider myself fairly tech savvy and have used schemes like this before but I just couldn't get through by phone or text... I'm eight months pregnant and the walking to-and-from the car park, shop and ticket machine was not great. Added to that the car parking ticket, when you get it, only tells you when you bought it not when it expires... we were lucky we were finished in the time I had paid for (I think)... but what if i needed to renew....I know I'm not the only one as there were a whole waiting room of people with similar frustrations and the staff. Some suggestions: Get machines that allow you to pay by card at the ticket machine - make the pay by phone simpler/work. Print the expiry time on the ticket. Make the instructions simple With an imminent visit to the maternity unit looming I'm pretty sure that this system is designed to catch you out some how... not encouraging

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Response from North Tyneside General Hospital

Dear Madam, Many thanks for your note – I hope your husband is recovering from his football injury and that his pain is bearable. I was really sorry to read about the frustration you experienced in trying to navigate your way around our new parking system. It is so important for us to receive and listen to your feedback. We want to do all we can to improve communication about the changes and ensure things are made easier for patients, families and staff. I have forwarded your comments and suggestions for improvement to Steven Bannister – our Director of Estates. I know he will welcome them. We will also alert the company who manage the car parking system about the difficulties you had paying by phone/text to ensure that this is resolved. I am sorry too for the additional walking you had to do whilst 8 months pregnant, I can appreciate how uncomfortable this was for you . We do have the option of paying on departure which may alleviate some of this for you. We made the decision to advise people to make payment when they arrive and then top up with any extra before they leave so that they don’t forget their time of arrival or indeed forget to pay at all however you are covered as long as you make payment before midnight on the day of your visit. The new system is not designed to catch anyone out- it is not in our interests to make parking difficult for our patients and visitors. One of the main reasons for the introduction of ParkingEye, was to remove the need for the replacement of existing payment and barrier machines which we estimate will save around £70,000 - money that will be directed back into patient services. We haven't lost any spaces, in fact we have created more and the change has allowed us to create dedicated spaces at the front entrances specifically for patients.The tariff remains the same, it hasn't changed for 3 years nearly and in fact we have reduced it for the period 1 to 2 hours . There have been no fines imposed to date. The same exemptions still apply for long term or critical patients and visitors / family and we have nearly 7000 blue badge holders registered for free parking . We very much look forward to welcoming you back to the hospital soon with the birth of your baby. If you would value a bit more information about parking, I hope you find the following link useful www.northumbria.nhs.uk/parking. Similarly, if you would like to discuss the matter personally with Steven Bannister please let me know. We are committed to listening to your views. If we do need to change things and can, we will, our plans to date have been tweaked along the way. Many thanks again for sharing your views. My best wishes for the remainder of your pregnancy and for the arrival of your new baby. Annie P.S. I am embarrassed that your response has taken this long to receive a reply from me and wanted to shared why this was the case. Last Friday night I stayed late to ensure all responses to posts on the NHS Choices website were up to date. Unfortunately none of the entries I submitted that night have been recorded by the NHS Choices system - they are currently looking into why this may be the case. I have chosen to rewrite this reply to you rather than experience any further delay. I am sorry - it is frustrating at this end when the system prevents us from getting an immediate reply back to you.

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