A DOCTOR had to pay for a patient to park at Hereford County Hospital after he was caught out by confusion over parking policy.

Tony Hobbs has visited the hospital for rheumatoid arthritis treatment for four years and has always been given a permit allowing him to park for free.

But he says he was told by staff at the Macmillan Unit, where he receives his all-day treatment twice a year, that the policy had changed meaning only cancer patients are entitled to use a permit.

Mr Hobbs, 47, became “extremely stressed and upset”

at this news, as he had driven 50 miles from Builth Wells to fulfil the appointment and had no change.

So his consultant – Doctor David Rees – paid for his parking ticket.

“It was ridiculous. I was extremely angry,” he said.

“I had travelled so far and, despite having sat in traffic for half-an-hour, I made it to the hospital on time and was then told I couldn’t park for free.

“I didn’t have my wallet on me, so Dr Rees said he would pay for me, which I was very grateful for and I have since donated the £12 it cost to park for nine hours to charity. I am in no way criticising the medical treatment I received, which was always first class.”

Currently it costs £3.50 to park for up to one hour and £15 for up to 24 hours, making the hospital one of the most expensive in the region.

In a statement, Hereford County Hospital said they have been in touch with Mr Hobbs “to apologise for the confusion” that incorrectly allowed him to park for free over a four-year period.

The statement said: ‘In an ideal world, car parking would be free, but that simply isn’t possible as the Trust does not own or operate the car parks at the County Hospital – they are provided and managed by our Private Finance Initiative partner (PFI), Mercia Healthcare Limited.

‘It would appear that the existing car parking policy hadn’t been followed in a small localised car park for some of the smaller clinics – this led to Mr Hobbs being able to park for free in recent years.

‘We have apologised to Mr Hobbs for this error which has led to the current situation.

‘However, a range of concessions are available and to those in receipt of benefits – Mr Hobbs has been advised of these and how he can take advantage of them.

‘We have also issued clearer guidance to our receptionists and a poster regarding car parking regulations has been placed on the receptionists’ counter within the Macmillan Renton Unit.

‘For clarity, the concessions available are within the Pay on Foot Car parks are as follows:

1. Two-hour outpatient appointments – if delayed by the Trust, but not exceeded by the length of treatment, car parking charge will be reduced to two hours

2. Three-hour paediatric outpatient/ women’s health appointments – if delayed by the Trust, but not exceeded by the length of treatment, car parking charge will be reduced to three hours

3. Four-hour A&E Department – where initial treatment is not received within four hours, car parking charge reduced to four hours 4. Two-hour parental night – any parent who stays with their child overnight can have their parking charge reduced to two hours.”