HOSPITAL bosses want community maternity staff in Northamptonshire to be immune from some parking restrictions after clampers prevented a midwife from being available for a home birth.
Tracey Jeff, a community midwife, who works for Northampton General Hospital (NGH), was attending an appointment at the Northampton House block of flats, in Wellington Street, Northampton town centre, and had parked in the underground car park so she could more easily carry her heavy kit.
However, on returning from the 11th floor home of a new mother, she was upset to find she had been clamped by a private firm, despite having a windscreen sticker saying she was an on-call midwife.
She claimed she told the clamper she was a midwife but he insisted she paid £100 to have it released.
She said she was also told her car could have been impounded, with a £420 release fee.
She said: “I was really upset. There was a home birth which I’d been told I could be called to but I literally couldn’t go anywhere.
“Not being able to attend could have had serious consequences.
“I totally hold my hands up to the fact I was breaking the rules but there was nowhere else to park nearby and I had all my kit to carry.
“Getting a permit would have meant the lady, who had recently given birth, coming down 11 floors with her baby to issue me with a visitor pass. It just wasn’t practical.
“We’re not trying to cadge some free parking, why would we? We’re performing an essential service.”
Mrs Jeff said NGH bosses had been very supportive in helping her appeal but they did not pay staff parking fines, which the midwife said she understood.
But she believed there ought to be NHS-issue permits that give the midwives’ cars similar protection to ambulances from both on-street parking tickets – which are issued by Northamptonshire County Council – and private clamping firms.
Faith Oduegwu, matron lead midwife for NGH community services, added: “Our midwives always try to park legally and safely, but in this case Tracey had to obtain a permit from the lady she was visiting.
“Midwives on call should have some official recognition of their need to sometimes park in exceptional circumstances. In some areas of the country, including London where I came from, councils issue a permit which allows that privilege.
“It’s something which we have so far been unsuccessful in negotiating with the county council here.”
A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said it was reviewing permit parking and there was now a possibility of a healthcare permit being created.
n Could your business offer occasional space in its car park for badge-holding on-call midwives to help them avoid fines? Call Nick on 01604 467033 and he will pass on your details to NGH.