A nurse, Deirdre Barr, who left retirement to take charge of London’s NHS Nightingale hospital was hit with a parking fine while working tirelessly to save coronavirus patients.
Deirdre Barr, from Derry, Northern Ireland, was issued with the £130 ticket despite a leaflet on her windscreen which showed she was an essential worker.
The 62-year-old was appointed director of operations at the 4,000-bed emergency field hospital at East London’s Excel centre a month ago, Belfast Live reported.
But Deirdre Barr was dismayed to return to her car after a long shift on Friday, which had been parked in Canary Wharf, to find a penalty notice stuck to her windscreen.
“I got to my car after a long day at Nightingale Hospital to find this on my car. Tower Hamlets gave me a parking ticket despite me having a Nightingale NHS leaflet clearly displayed,” Deirdre Barr explained.
“Since when was parking enforcement an essential service?”
Deirdre Barr, who worked for the health service for more than 40 years, leads a team who have volunteered to look after some of the sickest Covid-19 patients in the country.
They are contracted to work a minimum of 50 hours a week, and her family in Ireland believe she could be clocking up even more hours to manage the nursing crews and ensure safety and medical standards are top notch.
Her nephew Barry McFarland, from Derry, said that medics like his aunt have been working “flat out” to save lives.
“It is disgusting that these agents are going around this area ticketing cars when its pretty obvious so many medical staff are working in the area,” he said.
“My aunt and her teams are working around the clock to try to save lives and we are all very proud of them.
“You can see from the ticket that the parking agent waited for eight minutes before issuing that ticket.
“The last thing people like my aunt need to be worrying about is parking. Theyre flat out working to save lives.
“I understand my aunt had parked in a designated area near her hotel and then had come back to find shed been issued with a parking fine.
“So this has interrupted what she is there to be doing. The medical staff and others working at the Nightingale Hospital shouldnt have to worry about this sort of thing and I find it disgusting that the local council is prepared to try and get money out of these angels.”
A spokesperson for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets acknowledged Deirdre has displayed an NHS Nightingale notice but said their workers could not be expected to be familiar with such information.
The parking ticket and fine have since be cancelled and Deirdre has now been given a permit council staff can recognise.
A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets Council said: “We have issued more than 2,000 permits to allow NHS staff and other key workers to park for free in Tower Hamlets during this crisis.
“The vehicle had been unlawfully parked in the Canary Wharf area, 3.4 miles from NHS Nightingale, and was not displaying a permit. Our staff had issued a ticket as they would normally with any other vehicle.
“We responded less than an hour later to explain that while NHS staff can park for free in Tower Hamlets, we do ask them to display a permit so our staff know not to ticket their vehicles.
“Recognising that Deirdre may not have known about the permit system, we of course immediately offered to cancel the ticket she had been issued and to provide her with a permit for future use.
“We are grateful to Deirdre and her NHS colleagues for the vital role they are playing in helping to keep us all safe and we are committed to doing all we can to support them.”
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