Fine cancelled for mum who parked outside Royal Free to rush baby to hospital

Francesca with her son Toby, and husband Andrew. Picture: Francesca O'Neill

Francesca with her son Toby, and husband Andrew. Picture: Francesca O'Neill - Credit: Francesca O'Neill

A frantic mum rushing her sick baby to A&E was fined £100 for parking outside the Royal Free – whose main patient car park has been flattened.

But bosses at the private firm that runs the car park cancelled the ticket after the Ham&High got involved.

Francesca O’Neill was fined £100 for parking in front of the Pond Street hospital in the early hours of July 17, after one-year-old Toby developed breathing difficulties.

The barrister, who lives in Child’s Hill with her husband Andrew and their baby, woke in the middle of the night to hear Toby struggling to breathe.

“I woke up at about 12.30am and heard Toby having a strange sounding cough and wheezing,” she said. “We did what any parent in that situation would do, and rushed to the paediatric A&E.

“We parked in front of the hospital – the former car park is rubble, so there was nowhere else.

“I was just thinking of making sure he was OK.”

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The former car park at the hospital has been knocked down amid work on the new Pears Building. Francesca says she checked with a receptionist and security guard, who weren’t able to suggest alternate places to park, and assured her it would be OK.

After a two-and-a-half hour visit, doctors found Toby had croup. Francesca and Andrew took him home with some medicine.

“The doctor who saw us was wonderful,” Francesca said. Toby has since made a full recovery.

But on Tuesday, a fortnight after their visit, a letter from private firm Parking Eye landed on their doorstep.

“I was shocked,” said Francesca. “It would be slightly different if the car park was available and I could’ve parked in there. It’s a lot of money.”

During the construction of the Pears Building, the Royal Free’s patient car park has been moved to the bottom of Rowland Hill Street.

Parking Eye runs the Royal Free Hospital’s parking management services. Francesca feels there is a lack of accountability.

“It’s difficult to know who to contact. I understand why some things are outsourced, but they have outsourced common sense as well.”

After we intervened, ParkingEye spiked the fine.

A ParkingEye spokesperson said: “We always encourage motorists to appeal if there are mitigating circumstances. This parking charge notice was cancelled as soon as it was brought to our attention.”