A LIMERICK woman has appealed to the HSE to tear up its contract with the company that operates parking and clamping at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital.
But Euro Car Parks insisted that, in asking visitors to the hospital refrain from parking in front of the main entrance, it was only implementing hospital policy.
It arises from an incident last Wednesday in which Catherine Kelly was told by a member of Euro Car Parks staff her car would be clamped if she left it outside the emergency department while she went in to collect her elderly mother.
The 89-year-old woman from Brookville Gardens had suffered a fall in which she injured her knee and had gone to A&E to be assessed.
Her daughter Patricia O’Brien said that when doctors had cleared her mother to go home, Catherine had retrieved the car from the car park and pulled up outside the main entrance.
“My sister was told by the Euro Car Parks clamper to move her car and not to park there. She explained the situation to the man but to no avail and he threatened to clamp her and that she would have to take her mother to the car park,” said Ms O’Brien.
This, she said, was impossible as their mother was unable to walk. Temperatures at the time were hovering around freezing.
“My sister had no choice only to put her car into the car park, which is a good walking distance from hospital exit. She then explained her predicament to hospital staff, who put my mother on a wheelchair and a nurse waited with my mother at the exit in the freezing cold while my sister again went to get the car and return to exit to put my mother into car.”
A spokesman for Euro Car Parks said hospital management “prohibits any parking outside the front door to the hospital”. There was a set-down area only which was used by taxi drivers and others dropping off patients and visitors.
“People will say they are only going in for two minutes but if that’s allowed, the whole place would become a car park,” the spokesman said.
Ms O’Brien said her sister was not causing an obstruction and pointed out that ambulances access A&E through another route.
“My sister did explain the exceptional circumstances. My mother is the sort of person who if she was able to would insist on walking. She likes her independence. It was only because she couldn’t walk was why my sister was stopping to pick her up. But the man showed no compassion.”
Ms O’Brien said she had called the company to complain about the policy and the attitude of the member of staff but had not got a satisfactory response. She added that in a hospital environment, any policy should allow for exceptions on compassionate grounds and that the HSE should reconsider its contract with the operator.