Heartless traffic wardens have targeted cancer patients using disabled badges – while they are receiving chemotherapy.
Patients say they saw the sneaky parking enforcers systematically slap fines on vehicles outside a mobile treatment centre because they are forced to stop in the ‘wrong’ car park.
Fines have even been dished out to patients with disabled badges displayed on their vehicles who had parked in a staff car park – next to where the mobile unit is parked.
The cancer bus was set up by the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent, after the closure of their Celia Blakey Centre for cancer last year.
One outraged patient said he was shocked to see two parking attendants outside the mobile chemotherapy bus slapping drivers with fines – and even saw a cancer patient have to disconnect his chemo drip in order to move his car.
Austin Sloan, a business director, has been receiving treatment for bowel cancer from the bus since last year.
The 39-year-old said: “All the patients had disabled tickets and, although parked in the staff car park where the mobile unit is, there was half of the car park empty.
“I did tell the attendant that the occupants were on the bus receiving treatment, and her words were ‘all vehicles got to go, I’ve had cancer too, so don’t lay that one on me’.”
“I couldn’t believe it. I just stood there aghast, with my mouth open.
“One elderly gentleman even had to be disconnected from his chemo drip to find another space.
“He had severe respiratory issues and was told to park in other disabled spaces. When he told her there were no spaces, she simply replied ‘I don’t care’.”
Dad-of-two Austin who has gone through 18 months’ chemo, said it was hard for cancer patients to walk the long distance to the mobile unit.
He added: “Your treatment really takes it out of you.
“The disabled spaces are at the other end of the car park so you have to traipse back to your car.
“I, along with the chemotherapy unit staff, can’t understand why there are not a few spaces in that car park for the patients receiving treatment.
“The car park is mostly empty, and the unit only has a few seats so a few parking spaces is all that is needed.
“Following the closure of the Celia Blakey Unit due to staff shortages, us cancer patients have been travelling to Canterbury for all our treatment, so the bus is very important in reducing travelling for treatment.
“But to receive parking tickets due to purely bad logistics is not on.
“The attitude of the parking attendants also needs to be addressed.”
The mobile chemotherapy unit arrived at the William Harvey Hospital in July last year when the Celia Blakey Centre closed due to nurse shortages.
Patients were faced with either a gruelling 30-mile round trip to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital or the prospect of being treated in a vehicle in the car park.
The mobile unit, named Caron in memory of broadcaster Gloria Hunniford’s late daughter and former Blue Peter presenter Caron Keating, visits every Monday and Friday.
A spokesman for the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the William Harvey Hospital, said: “We are extremely sorry to hear about the experience some of our patients had.
“Clearly sign-posted patient and visitor car parking spaces are available across the site and we encourage patients to park in the correct area to prevent being issued a ticket.
“We recognise that tickets should be issued in an appropriate manner and we will be discussing this with our parking wardens to ensure we further support our patients to park in designated areas.”
The Celia Blakey Centre closure is due to be reviewed in July, when it is hoped plans will be put in place to reopen it.