Now then, I have just been bombarded via yet another unnecessary 24/7 news channel about hospital car parking charges being abolished.
This in certain circumstances would be a cause for contented smiles. However, at the moment (could be a moment that lasts five years or even longer) My smile has not materialised. There are caveats, and this sudden charitable outlook will not apply to all, nor is there any information as to how it will be funded.
Firstly, the free car parking spaces are there for staff working within the NHS on night shifts. I'm not sure if that means all staff or just those above a certain level.
I say this because I kicked off about parking charges for staff whilst working for the NHS a few years ago, this I did because I found out that Consultants were able to park for free (in their own carefully hidden car park) and everybody else, including patients, was obliged to fork out. Most annoying. Needless to say that particular car park was packed with BMWs and Mercedes and the like. Just contrast that to the long queues that so annoyed me outside the local cancer hospital. I have seen old and frail people stood at bus stops outside that hospital . This is not how it should be.
NHS staff on nights can work ridiculous hours, not only that, under the most intense of pressures. The stuff they deal with is not something that can be easily imagined. I have seen it close up many times, it is not pretty. So, do these things not happen on day shifts to those very same members of staff ? Simple answer is yes, more frequently. Most people are aware of the carnage that takes place everyday in A&E.
To say that they can only avoid paying £40 per week if they work nights I find actually quite insulting.
Anyway, the news is saying that this move shows the government is living up to its manifesto pledges. I will get to more of those another time.
Closer inspection of this move highlights something rather worrying. Provision is also made for "long term patients" to avoid paying. How exactly is this going to work in practice ? Can you picture it ? Take me for example. I am very definitely a long term patient, will be for the rest of my life. Not sure how long that actually represents given that my medications will soon become prohibitively expensive to our NHS. I would rather not be specific about my conditions here, but let me put it this way, in mid 2016 three senior clinicians stood at the foot of my bed and informed me that I may not get through it at all, and that the next two years were going to be tough. They were.
Who gets to define Long Term ??
So, from April, what do I do when I roll up at one of my local hospitals ? Will there be a medically aware car park attendant ? Do I get to explain all this to that person ? If that is the case , will these medical car park attendants be suitably paid ? I am not joking here, at some point in this new procedure somebody is going to have to know what they are talking about. How will this come to pass ?
As our NHS continues to become a cash cow for our American friends, we will increasingly see patients being asked for payment, in one form or another. Who is going to do this ?? Ambulance crews, Nurses, Receptionists, Consultants, Who ?
If you have a broken leg and have to attend fracture clinics regularly will you still be expected to line the pockets of some private company ? Sort of like being fined for a medical emergency is'nt it ? I don't have a car, nor do I want one. If I won one I would sell it. I have to say though, motorists are the most fed upon section of our Victorian society.
Fleeced constantly one way or another, be it for repairs, insurance or even parking up somewhere. My opinion is there are far too many cars in the UK, roads very definitely cannot cope, all that pollution, every single side street in our cities being infested with the damn things. The thought of all that finance scares me, if and when the next financial crash happens (no doubt the fault of Labour) car finance will play will a huge part.
Reasonable estimates of the amounts paid via charges put the figure around £250M, Which ever way you look at it, that is a massive amount of cash.
Something that often crops up in articles about this subject "Front Line Care" , having worked in the NHS for many years I have to ask for somebody to define exactly what that means ? Many of those who work ridiculous hours in that monster service are support staff, Porters, Cleaners, Security, Receptionists, are they "Front Line?" do they get any sort of recognition when these far reaching decisions are taken ?
Trusts have been setting parking charges as they see fit. It is easy to say that this lead to them cashing in and ripping off patients and staff. Some of them undoubtedly did, however , lets pause and think. As a result of a callous political ideology they have all been placed in an impossible position. as in starved of funding. Trying to keep going in the face of a growing need at the same time as seeing cash flows dry up.
Hence we now see motorway service style entrances to most hospitals where you can very definitely pay motorway service prices for stuff. Try going into the canteen and buying a decent meal, you will see what I mean. This having already forked out to park.
As far as I can see there is no information regarding how any cash shortfalls due to this selective free parking will be addressed. I have a very uneasy feeling about it all.
We all now what is in store for our NHS, this parking fiasco will end up as a good barometer of what is really being planned. If your dying you get to park for free if you can find a space. The cash from those that paid will go into the pocket of some private company executive somewhere who when ill will visit a private hospital.
The NHS will cease to exist as we know it within the next Two or Three years.
Don't bother to bring the car.