A DISABLED pensioner was hit with a £50 parking ticket while trying to get his badly injured wife into a hospital accident and emergency department.

Lionel Harwood was left furious and upset following the incident at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and has made a formal complaint.

The 80-year-old says he has struggled to drive his car since the incident because of the stress.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has apologised to the Harwoods and cancelled the fine.

Mr Harwood, who can only walk a few yards unaided, was told to take his wife Delia, 77, to hospital after she fell and severely injured her back.

He said: “Our GP advised me to try to get my wife in the car and take her directly to A&E which would be far quicker than waiting for an ambulance.

“At the hospital I parked the car outside A&E and had to call a nurse with a wheelchair to help me get my wife out of the car.

“By now she was in much distress and pain causing her to cry.

“While we were getting her out, a hospital traffic warden was hovering around us trying to issue a parking ticket.

“I told him of my predicament which wasn’t difficult for him to see for himself.

“I told him as soon as we could get my wife out of the car I would pull into the 20 minute drop off space nearby.

“On leaving A&E well within the 20 minutes drop off time allowed, I was again confronted by the warden who said 'I’ve given you a £50 parking ticket for illegal parking'.

“I told him I’d only been parked for 16 minutes but he said he had his job to do.”

Mrs Harwood had suffered a fracture to her spine and had to stay in hospital for three days.

Her husband said he could not visit her until late at night when a neighbour would drive him there.

He had problems with driving the car, the bus stop was too far away and the taxi fare was too expensive.

Mr Harwood said: “They are exploiting motorists and pensioners who are coming to the hospital and it needs to be dealt with.

“The attitude was appalling.

“The nursing staff at the hospital were fuming about what had happened and what we had to deal with.”

Mr Harwood has already contacted the hospital’s complaints team about the incident.

He said: “My wife is back home now but is still in a lot of pain.

“We are wondering how we are going to manage when she needs to go back for an appointment.

“I can’t manage the multi-storey car park because it is too far to walk from there.

“I wanted to highlight the story so it is clear what people are having to deal with.”

A trust spokesman said: “We apologise for the distress caused to Mr Harwood and his wife on this occasion.

“The penalty notice issued to Mr Harwood has been cancelled.”

The hospital has a long history of problems with car parking and access to the site.

It is currently in the middle of a major redevelopment which has lead to changes to car park provision and how people can drive on and off the site.

When complete, the redevelopment will include an underground car park.