Tragic plea over BGH car parking

A Selkirk man whose wife died in Borders General Hospital on Saturday has issued a heart-breaking plea over BGH parking rules.

Christina Edwards passed away after spending a month in the hospital with a rare disorder.

Her husband of 50 years, Arthur, spent many hours daily by her bedside, but says time taken up by having to troop outside to shift his car every four hours to avoid parking fines was all time he could have been with his dying wife.

And the 68-year-old retired delivery driver and grandfather has told The Southern he now intends campaigning to try to get parking regulations at the BGH changed.

“On Thursday, I spotted three police cars which were parked on prohibited parking areas near the front of the hospital and two parking wardens walked straight past them and into the accident and emergency entrance – presumably to ask the officers to move the vehicles,” Mr Edwards said.

“But why did the wardens not ticket these vehicles? The officers did not seem to be rushing like they were on an emergency, so in that case why are they not subject to the same parking rules as the rest of us?

“For the past month I was having to leave my wife’s bedside in Ward 12, come down the stairs, then all the way out to the car park – often to the far end of the car park – move my car to avoid getting a fine for overstaying the time limit and then spend more time driving round looking for another space to park in.

“I reckon all that cost me between five or six hours of time that I could have spent with my wife in her last days,” said an emotional Mr Edwards. “If wardens are ticketing people like me in my situation, they should be treating everyone the same.”

Mr Edwards said hospital staff are also having to spend time away from their patients to shift their vehicles. “And some staff also have to park up at the top car park to avoid moving their cars so often, but that means they have to walk quite a long way in darkness at night – that’s not safe either,” he added.

Mr Edwards now intends pressing politicians over the BGH parking situation, adding: “When someone is as ill as my wife was, you don’t know how long you have left with them. There will be other people in the same situation and it’s absolutely ridiculous.

“I’m not doing this out of spite – it won’t help me now my wife is gone. But it may help others avoid having to go through the same thing.”

After offering its condolences to Mr Edwards, NHS Borders pointed out the British Parking Association Code of Practice stated all marked vehicles belonging to emergency services are exempt from parking restrictions, regardless of length of time or reason for parking. On his complaint about having to move his car every four hours, NHS Borders said the BGH had four long- stay car parks – Mr Edwards said these were often full.

As for NHS Borders’ response that ward staff are permitted to issue parking exemption certificates to visitors and patients on an individual basis in exceptional circumstances, Mr Edwards said it would have taken a large amount of time away from his wife’s bedside every day to register for the hospital’s so-called white list, intended to make parking easier for relatives.

Responding to Mr Edwards’ complaint about police cars at the BGH, Police Scotland told us: “If Mr Edwards would like to write to Chief Inspector Clark at Hawick, then we will look into the matter for him.”

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