Published: 12th May, 2011
by TOM FOOT
AN ambulance driver discovered a parking ticket on his van as he stretchered a sick patient out of an NHS treatment centre.
Mustafa Korkmaz was billed £80 for parking outside the Camden Dialysis Unit in Mandela Street, Camden Town, at 5.48pm on Saturday.
The 43-year-old drives for private firm, M&L Ambulances, which is contracted by the Royal Free Hospital to pick up and collect dialysis patients for the life-saving kidney treatment.
He said: “I had a permanently ill and incontinent bed-bound patient with severe fluid overload going for their renal treatment. The parking enforcement officer totally disregarded my presence and my patient’s priority needs.”
Mr Korkmaz, who was told he must pay the fine himself, said he was forced to park in a prohibited bay because there was no space on the yellow lines or residents’ bays.
“What else am I supposed to do?”, he said.
His vehicle has “ambulance” stickers and is marked with a giant NHS stamp and has large “Royal Free Hospital” logo.
But yesterday, a spokeswoman for London Parking Control Limited warned drivers they were not exempt from parking rules and would be ticketed if they parked in spaces that said “private property, no parking, no waiting”.
She added: “M&L are simply a transport company and bit part of the emergency services and they do not have the same rights as the emergency services.”
She said she had cancelled the fine out of courtesy.
Camden Dialysis Unit, based in Centro House, is licensed to provide dialysis treatment services for the Royal Free. The Hampstead trust has moved its service out of the hospital grounds, choosing to send hundreds of patients to the privately-run unit in Mandela Street instead.
Bizarrely, there are no places that cars or “ambulances” can park in Mandela Street in the day – just lots of yellow lines and residents bays.
Ambulance drivers – who typically visit the unit eight times a day – say they run a daily gauntlet and live in fear of parking fines.
Mr Korkmaz said he wanted to go public because “our good deeds as ambulance personnel often go to no good ... and how much of distress it has caused my patient and myself”.
Dialysis treatment sees machines replace the role kidneys play in filtering the waste and fluid out of the blood.
Patients’ blood is transferred from the body into a machine, it is then filtered and pumped back into the body. This can take many hours.
Dialysis patients will be sent to the Edgware Hospital from September, when the hospital changes its contracts, according to ambulance drivers.
M&L Ambulance Service, according to its website, is “one of the largest private ambulance services in operation”, “completing 250,000 patient journeys each year for the NHS”.