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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
'Parking added to my stress levels'
Paul Mitchell
Mr Mitchell was injured in the Kings Cross explosion
When Janine Mitchell's husband Paul was seriously injured in the July bomb attacks on London, the last thing she needed was to worry about was parking.

Paul was in a Piccadilly Line Tube carriage travelling to work when a bomb went off at King's Cross station.

More than 20 people died in the blast, and Paul's leg was ripped open.

Fully conscious, he remembers a fellow passenger putting a tourniquet on his leg, and then waiting for an hour for the paramedics to arrive.

Paul was taken to the Royal Free Hospital in north London for emergency treatment.

There were occasions that I was in tears in front of wardens
Janine Mitchell

His wife Janine arrived at the hospital that evening after a long and traumatic drive from Yorkshire, where she had been at a business meeting.

But instead of dashing in to see her seriously ill husband, Janine had to circle the hospital car park looking for a space.

It was a pattern that was repeated throughout the two weeks that Paul was an in-patient at the hospital.

The hospital charged in excess of 3 an hour for one of its limited number of parking spaces - and nobody was allowed to stay for more than a few hours at time.

Leaving regularly

As a result, Janine, who kept a round-the-clock vigil at her husband's bed for the first few days, found herself regularly having to leave his side to deal with the car.

Car parking charges alone amounted to around 36 a day - but that was nothing compared with the stress generated by having frantically to search for a new space every few hours.

Janine regularly had to leave the hospital car park, and search for a meter in a side street as close to the hospital as possible.

"Instead of concentrating on Paul I had to worry about finding a parking space. It was something I really did not need at the time," she said.

"I was having to feed the meters horrendous amounts of money, and having to leave every few hours to go and find a new parking space.

"It added to my stress enormously. I have very vivid memories of it being 35C, of having had no sleep, and of having to sail round in the car around Belsize Park for up to two hours looking for a car parking space.

"There were occasions when I was in tears in front of wardens who told me I could not park where I had just left the car."

Limited space

Janine said she could fully understand that space for cars was limited at the hospital, and that it was fair that people who were perfectly able to use public transport did so.

But following her husband's experience, the last thing either of them wanted was for her to rely on public transport to get to the hospital.

"I was told by security who found me in tears looking for a space about a week after the bomb that the nurses could give me a pass to park anywhere in the grounds.

"But the nurses refused because passes were only for families of patients in the intensive care unit.

"I spent 300 plus and wasted God only knows how much time parking."

Hospital response

A spokeswoman for the Royal Free expressed sympathy for Janine's situation, but said there was little the hospital could do to address the problem.

"Our hands are tied. We have been told by Camden Council that no further planning permission will be granted on the hospital site unless there is a reduction in the number of people coming into the site by car," she said.

"The trust has only 155 parking spaces for the public which we are unable to extend.

"In addition to the legal requirement incumbent on the trust, the fire brigade has raised with us the issue of people parking outside designated areas which can reduce emergency access."


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