Patient groups have expressed their ‘extreme concern’ after it has emerged that a mum from Thorpe Bay missed the birth of her own daughter due to the actions of an ‘aggressive and rambling’ parking enforcement officer at Southend Hospital.
Bosses at the NHS trust have promised to look into the incident as ‘a matter of urgency,’ but the fact remains that she has been permanently robbed of those precious first few moments of bonding that every mother should have with a newborn baby.
On Tuesday 19th January, heavily pregnant 21-year-old Felicity Flickton took the decision to drive herself from her home in Lifstan Way to Southend University Hospital after midwives advised her to get into the maternity unit as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, with only herself in the vehicle, she arrived at the Cardigan Wing side entrance at 9.05am – the sheer number of vehicles already in the car park made it impossible for her to find a valid parking space. As she could already feel the baby’s head touching the base of her steering column, she decided that she had no choice but to abandon her vehicle on the privately-painted (and therefore legally meaningless) double-yellow lines by the entrance.
She recalled her story to a Southend News Network reporter. She said: ‘As I was screaming in pain due to the stage of labour that was already in progress, I just kicked my car door open, crawled out, and screamed for help. My baby’s head was already out at the time, and thankfully there were already some midwives downstairs who ran over to assist me.’
‘However, when I tried to crawl onto the pavement, a hospital parking enforcement officer came and stood in my way and made it perfectly clear that I would have to legally park my vehicle before completing the birth upstairs in the maternity unit. I kept explaining that being in the final stages of labour would make that a little bit tricky, but the officer didn’t really understand what I was saying – they just kept mentioning needing to keep the area clear for emergencies.’
Mrs Flickton continued: ‘After five minutes of the officer refusing to get out of my way, the fantastic group of midwives were forced to continue my daughter’s birth upstairs in the Central Delivery Suite while he forced me to stand by my car and watch him call for a recovery vehicle.’
‘Thankfully, my beautiful baby girl Zoe was delivered upstairs at a healthy weight of 7lbs 6oz, and I am devastated that I had to miss the whole thing due to the actions of one unbelievably stupid and aggressive parking enforcement officer.’
David Nadger-Crofton, chairman of the Southend Patient Research Operating Group (SPROG), spoke to a Southend News Network reporter about the incident.
He said: ‘We are disgusted by the behaviour of this supposed parking professional. We have heard countless stories about people who have been forced to miss the final moments of a dear relative’s life due to this sort of enforcement, but this is the first time that we have found out about a mother missing her own baby’s birth. We are astounded and have raised this as a matter of urgency with hospital chiefs.’