Hartlepool motorist fined £40 after Covid jab delay has penalty overturned

Hospital bosses are to refund a £40 parking fine issued to a teacher who was ticketed while getting his coronavirus vaccine.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 4:36 pm

Rick Kitson, from Hartlepool, was hit with the penalty after attending Stockton’s University Hospital of North Tees for his jab.

Mr Kitson, who works as a teacher at Hartlepool’s Catcote Academy, said he parked in the hospital car park and took advantage of the 20 minutes free parking on offer.

Unexpected delays resulted in him arriving back to his car 13 minutes late and days later he was hit with the fine – which could have risen to £70 – in the post.

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Rick Kitson with his parking fine. Picture by FRANK REID

After it was contacted by the Mail and a councillor, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has now confirmed that the penalty will be cancelled.

Mr Kitson, 33, said he is "pleased common sense has prevailed" but called for a wider review into hospital parking charges.

It comes after he initially called the fine a "kick in the teeth" after working through the pandemic to support children with special needs.

He said: "I've worked through the entire pandemic, we've not had any working from home time, putting ourselves at risk.

Councillor Jonathan Brash, who represents the Burn Valley ward on Hartlepool Borough Council, intervened on Mr Kitson's behalf.

"I think it's appalling really, people go to hospital on the worst days of their lives or to look after their health, and adding the stress of a fine or even parking fees at all, having to worry about that, it's totally immoral.

"When people are going for vaccines, it might put people off."

Mr Kitson initially paid the fine before the issue was picked up by his ward representative on Hartlepool Borough Council, Councillor Jonathan Brash, who wrote to the trust.

Cllr Brash called for Mr Kitson to be refunded along with hospital parking charges to be suspended during the vaccine roll-out and a further review undertaken into abolishing them entirely.

He said: “It is not acceptable that when people are doing the right thing and getting their jabs to then effectively charge them for the privilege.

"Hospital car parking charges undermine the most basic principle of our NHS. It should be free at the point of need. In my view they should be abolished.”

A trust spokesperson thanked Cllr Brash for raising the issue and reiterated how hard staff have worked at the hospital’s vaccine hub.

The spokesperson added: "We would like to thank Councillor Brash for his letter raising this issue with us.

“This gentleman is one of around 10,000 people from across our community in the Tees Valley who we have been delighted to be able to offer the Covid-19 vaccination to.

“We realise parking fees are never popular but they remain our sole source of income for maintaining our car parking facilities and any surplus monies raised through fees goes directly into frontline patient care.

“We are working directly with the patient to resolve the situation.

“In line with government policy, all parking charges were suspended throughout the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, being reintroduced in October last year.”

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