Chloe Edmondson, 32, with her baby Nicole
A heavily-pregnant woman diagnosed with a life-threatening condition while she attended a hospital appointment has lost her appeal over a £100 parking fine.
Mother-to-be Chloe Edmondson parked in a private car park near the University Hospital of North Tees in County Durham for what she thought would be a short visit to the maternity department.
The 32-year-old veterinary nurse suffered from pre-eclampsia during the later stages of her pregnancy, so had to be monitored with check-ups at the hospital in Stockton-on-Tees every two days.
But when Miss Edmondson attended a regular appointment at around 5pm on January 26, nurses told her that her blood pressure was dangerously high and she needed to stay in overnight.
Left terrified, she forgot about her car until her partner Nathan Hobson, who was working away in Leeds until late on the Friday night, visited her the next morning.
She said: ‘I had so many other things on my mind, the car park was literally the last thing on my mind. My blood pressure was so high that I couldn’t even walk.
Miss Edmonson suffered from pre-eclampsia during the later stages of her pregnancy, so had to be monitored with check-ups at the hospital in Stockton-on-Tees every two days
‘I was so worried about the health of the baby. It wasn’t until Nathan visited me the next day and said ‘there’s a ticket on your car’ that I realised and my heart sank.
‘Since he was in his own car I had to get my parents Jackie and Ed to come and move it at around 10.30am – and it was left at their house until I picked it up on the Sunday.’
Northern Parking Services (NPS) issued her with a £100 fine, which she immediately appealed. But it was rejected, despite a letter from her midwife about the situation.
Miss Edmondson gave birth to daughter Nicole days later, four weeks prematurely, after being induced to prevent any further risk to mother and baby.
She had to have an emergency Cesarean and has spent six weeks recovering.
She said: ‘The stress of this has been awful. I’ve been recovering from a Cesarean and dealing with a newborn but I’ve had this hanging over me the whole time.
Miss Edmonson forgot about her car until her partner Nathan Hobson (left, with Nicole), who was working away in Leeds until late on the Friday night, visited her the next morning
‘I thought they would be more compassionate when they realised how serious the situation was. But not even a letter from the midwife has made a difference.
What is pre-eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition of pregnancy, and can be particularly dangerous because many of the signs are silent, while some symptoms resemble ‘normal’ effects of pregnancy.
Symptoms include high blood pressure; swelling around the face, eyes or hands; headaches; nausea or vomiting; changes in vision; and shortness of breath.
Pre-eclampsia is detectable through regular medical appointments that measure blood pressure, protein in the urine and weight gain. It is treated via medication and dietary changes.
The condition typically occurs after 20 weeks of gestation and up to six weeks postpartum (after delivery), but it can also occur earlier than 20 weeks.
Pre-eclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are believed to be responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths each year across the world.
‘I’ve been trying to enjoy the first six weeks with my baby but this has been on my mind. Obviously money is tight when you have a baby and it has been a real worry.
‘The £100 fine is the equivalent of two weeks’ worth of baby milk and nappies, so when you look at it like that it is a lot of money that we can’t waste. I had parked there for every other appointment and did not have a problem. It’s just so unfair.’
Newcastle-based NPS is not affiliated to the hospital or trust, which has a contract with a different parking operator, Parking Eye, for its own car parks.
She has asked Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham for help. He is backing a bill to clamp down on parking companies with an industry code of practice.
The Labour MP has said that, like many politicians, he had been approached by constituents raising concerns about working practices of some companies.
Mr Cunningham said when contacting companies on behalf of his constituents, he had his correspondence ignored.
He said: ‘Private car parking companies have been allowed to get away with issuing fines and relentlessly pursuing payment, without any accountability.’
Miss Edmondson parked in a private car park near the University Hospital of North Tees (file picture) in County Durham for what she thought would be a short visit to the maternity unit
An NPS spokesman told MailOnline: ‘As a business dealing with strict data protection policies, we would be unable to comment on any related stories on specific cases.
‘We are a fully accredited member of the British Parking Association who offers the motorist an independent appeal (Parking On Private Land Appeals – Popla).
‘A motorist can only appeal after making a rejected case, known as a representation, to the operator who issued the PCN.
‘Popla is independent of all parties to appeals, including the operator and the BPA, as are the assessors who make the determinations. This option is offered to every keeper and driver following an appeal rejection.’