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Tunbridge Wells daughter Lauraine Griffiths missed her mother Phyl Griffiths' death searching for parking space at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury

By KentOnline reporter

Imagine missing a loved one's final moments because you can't find a parking space.

For Lauraine Griffiths, the tragic scenario is a reality, and she doesn't think she's the only one.

Sharing her story, Miss Griffiths said: "At the very end I know she would've been frightened and I wasn't there, I couldn't get to her."

Phyl Griffiths had been in Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Pembury, when her daughter received a call from her consultant to say she had suffered a suspected heart attack and was in distress.

The 56-year-old said: "I knew absolutely that she would want me there because if I could've been by her side 24/7 in her last years that's what she would've had.

"At that time I lived on Powder Mill Lane, less than a mile from the hospital, the traffic was absolutely appalling, I just couldn't get to the hospital to start with.

Phyl Griffiths passed away in May (5842547)
Phyl Griffiths passed away in May (5842547)

"When I got there my heart was in my mouth, because I knew in my heart she was going and I was driving around, there was absolutely nowhere to park."

Miss Griffiths says she spent between 15 and 20 minutes searching for a parking space.

She continued: "With the benefit of hindsight I should have just abandoned the car somewhere, but you don't like do that at the hospital because you never know who or what you might be in the way of.

Lauraine Griffiths says parking at Tunbridge Wells Hospital is "shameful"
Lauraine Griffiths says parking at Tunbridge Wells Hospital is "shameful"

"I would've gone in a disabled space, even though I'm not disabled, but there wasn't even one of those free. If there had been a spare staff space I would've gone there, but there wasn't.

"Eventually I managed to park but I can't remember which area of the hospital it was, I raced to the ward, but by the time I'd got there she'd gone.

"I was so upset. We'd been together through so much."

Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Pembury. Picture: Matthew Walker
Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Pembury. Picture: Matthew Walker

The 512-bed Tunbridge Wells Hospital opened in 2011 at a cost of £220million.

It offers 447 spaces for visitors and 818 for its staff, of which there around 2000.

Miss Griffiths branded parking at the hospital in Tonbridge Road as "shameful."

Phyl Griffiths was a vibrant member of Tunbridge Wells Operatic and Dramatic Society (5842629)
Phyl Griffiths was a vibrant member of Tunbridge Wells Operatic and Dramatic Society (5842629)

She said: "I'd been to the hospital a number of times with mum and it was always difficult.

"Nobody else should be in this position, they were short sighted when the built the place and they need to do something about, because I'm sure I'm not the only one."

Seven months on from her her mother's death Miss Griffiths says she has had no contact from the hospital's trust.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has, however, provided a statement to the press.

It reads: "We are extremely sorry that the family was not able to be with the patient at a very sad and difficult time.

"While no words can adequately address their loss, our heartfelt and deepest sympathies are extended to the family and we very much wish the circumstances could have been different."

The trust said it is putting together plans on expanding one of its car parks, but the number of proposed new spaces is currently unknown.

Phyl Griffiths was described as the "life and soul of the party" by her daughter.

She had a life membership at Tunbridge Wells Operatic and Drama Society and sat on its board of directors, as well as treading the boards.

Miss Griffiths said: "She was my world.

"She retired at the age of 72 and became ill from then on with various things but prior to that she ran two businesses.

"She was lively and vibrant and so beautiful.
"We were lucky to have each other and i have some fantastic memories of her she was a very special lady."

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