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Sunday, 18 March 2012

Hospital parking charges really are taxing the sick......

People say that hospital parking fees are a ‘tax on the sick’, and I have to agree.  When you’re sick or hurt and your family rushes you to A&E, the last thing any of you need is to be left driving around a car park looking for a space; add to that the horror of finding the change for the machine and then knowing that it’ll only cover you for a maximum of four hours (but often only two) and yet you’re ‘waiting time’ is a minimum of six, which means you have to keep rushing out to shove even more cash into the machines and you can see why people get frazzled.

For the person who is actually sick or injured or, worse, an actual inpatient on a ward, the worry is even harder to deal with; I should know, I’ve been there.  You keep worrying that the ticket on your family’s car will run out so you keep asking if they’ve still got time or should they put another ticket on the car?  You end up with an entire visit being wasted on a discussion about the cost and time limit of the hospital parking. 

Of course dropping off and picking up are even worse; you pay for a number of hours parking, even though they’re only going to be there for about fifteen minutes maximum.  There are drop off points, but that’s only for drivers who are literally booting their passengers out and driving way – no parking allowed.  So, for concerned families, they have a choice boot and run like the taxis do, or pay and stay; I’d say about 99.9% opt for the pay and stay.

To me that’s like the hospitals profiteering from the worry of a person for a loved one.  When my mum died, we drove down to London, to see her body in the Chapel of Rest; even though we were bereaved and only there about twenty minutes (there was obviously more than one death and only one chapel.......I don’t need to spell it out beyond that do I?) we still had to pay over £3.00 ($4.75) in parking fees for two hours.

Central London and other hospitals around the country charge even more; one hospital in London charges £3.00 an hour so you can imagine the cost if you’re in the A&E department for six plus hours waiting to be seen.

Then there’s the fact that some charge for the use of the tv over the bed, anything up to £10; ward telephones that are wheeled in and cost more than just the call so you end up shoving a couple of pounds in for just a quick phone home.  Oh and forget your mobile, it never gets a signal so you have to use their telephone.

I’m lucky that here in the Midlands the parking fees are about, currently, £2.50 for four hours; some hospitals actually don't charge anything or only about £3.00 a day for the tv, and phones are just the basic cost of the call plus a few pence - sometimes you can even use the ward phone for nothing.

This is not the fault of the doctors and nurses, who work really hard for little reward; although, sadly, they’re the ones that get the abuse from frustrated patients and families. It's really down to the bureaucrats and bean counters that run the places.  
Yes, the NHS is in trouble, we all know that; but you don’t profit from the sick – nor do you, when told to cut your numbers by the government, to safeguard your own job and other bureaucratic jobs, instead make desperately needed doctors and nurses redundant and, even worse, shut wards.

That’s no way to run a hospital for God’s sake; the sad thing is the bean counters and pen pushers messing up the NHS are, sadly, the ones with private health insurance and so they just don’t care how Joe Public survives.

But, in my humble opinion and as a long time user of the NHS, it would take a million of them to make up for even one poorly paid but dedicated nurse - but my opinion is ignored, like so many other similar ones, by those in power; a shame and shameful on so many levels.....

This is Simi, thanks for reading.......

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