Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cheapo Britain….Hospital car parks

Ever visited one of our gloriously efficient hospitals, either as a patient or visitor? If you have and you’ve driven there, then no doubt the hospital car park has ruined your day.

The bright, jolly black and yellow bar rises and you’re in. For the next 20 minutes you cruise around looking for a 5 foot wide space in a sea of metal. Of course, there are places, but only if you are a merc-driving consultant, they’ve got loads of room in their special enclave of executive tarmac.

You eventually find a space, park the car, see your Granny or have your lumps felt. Either way, you’re there because you have to be, not because you’re going shopping or whatever. You’re there because you’re seeing someone who is sick – or you yourself are sick.

So why charge people for the privilege of parking in hospitals anyway? It’s cheap, nasty and vindictive. It’s a tax on the sick and worried - and it’s a bloody disgrace.

Take a tip from me, I’ve never paid to get out of any hospital car park. I drive in, see who I have to, then nip round to the Administrators Office and explain to them that I’ve had to dash to the hospital as a matter of urgency. If they ask "Why?" – tell them to mind their own business. Quote patient confidentiality, then tell them in the rush to get to the hospital, you’ve come out without any money at all.

Before you can say ‘Health Executive’s BMW petrol fund’ – they’ll shove a car park exit token in your hand so you can drive out.

This country is unique in the way we just ‘accept stuff’. Hospital car park charges were brought in when they were given autonomy during the Thatcher era. We were told it was just for ‘administration’ purposes. Inevitably, ‘admin’ gave way to ‘cash-cow’ – charges rose rapidly and the rest is history. Pretty soon, to accompany the spiralling car park charges, exorbitant fees for watching bog standard TV programmes and breathtaking charges for phone calls made from wards followed.

If more people refused to pay, the whole ‘patient tax drive initiative’ would get binned. As a start, I suggest you all find out where your hospital admin’ office is as soon as possible….

12 comments:

Shooting Parrots said...

Oh dear, Alfie, you've got me worked up now and not for the reason you might think.

Why is it that folk think that you should be able to park at a hospital for free?

1. Most of our hospitals were built before cars were invented, let alone in massive overuse as they are now. The buildings have been replaced, but the site space restrictions remain. A free multi-storey or an MRI scanner? No brainer.

2. We're happy to pay for multi-storey when we decide to spend an afternoon shopping. So why does it become an issue when your health is at stake?

3. And if they don't charge? Or charge low-cost? They become dumping grounds for Mondeo 'executives.' Four meet up at 8am and leave three cars, departing in one for the day.

4. Lots of people object to the 'Nanny State.' Strange then that we expect her to look after our motors. For free.

This is turning into a rant, for which I apologise. Feel free to delete this comment if you must.

But your conning the administrators is bang out of order. You don't pay, we all pay.

Got it off my chest now -- more painkillers Matron!

wonkotsane said...

Hospital trips are generally a necessity, you shouldn't be charged for them. It's just more money grabbing. We pay for the damn hospitals, why should we pay to park outside them?

Anonymous said...

I would gladly pay a nominal amount, but the £1.50 at my local hospital is ridiculous, esp if you are visiting patients once or twice a day for a week or more, and there is no concessions for OAPs etc and no public transport that goes anywhere near - and the staff have to pay an exorbitant amount as well.
Ms PC

wonkotsane said...

But your conning the administrators is bang out of order. You don't pay, we all pay.

Just thought - we all don't pay, they'll have to give up. They can't prosecute thousands of people and it's usually a privately run enterprise. If the contracters don't make any money they'll drop the contract.

Shooting Parrots said...

And if someone is so ill that you need to visit them once or twice a day, you'd begrudge them the cost?

There's always the bus.

wonkotsane said...

And if someone is so ill that you need to visit them once or twice a day, you'd begrudge them the cost?

Am I missing something here?

If someone is ill and needs visiting twice a day is it ok to charge them a couple of quid every time?

We pay for the NHS, we pay for the hospitals, we pay for the car parks. Why should we then pay again to use them and pay a fine for not paying to use something we paid for in the first place. It's like taxing taxes.

Roger B. said...

All our local hospitals are well served by buses, which is just as well because they'd have knock down every building within a half mile radius of The Hallamshire to create enough parking spaces.

wonkotsane said...

It's not too bad in Telford but in Much Wenlock where I used to live public transport is virtually non-existant.

Toque said...

You have to pay to park a bike at Edinburgh hospital - so much for encouraging exercise.

I suppose they have to offset the PFI cost somehow.

Blue Witch said...

Totally agree.

We recently spent nearly £70 in 3 weeks while parking to visit Mr BW's father in hospital.

You can only do your 'administrator's trick' once though, or they'd recognise you. I'm pretty sure that at our local hospital they'd make you leave your name and address and make you send the money due to them.

The real issue is that many car parks are run by private companies and the money doesn't go the hospitals at all.

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