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….

Monday, July 25, 2005

We’re alll going on a Summer Holiday, no more working for 12 weeks or so……

No, not a tribute to Cliff Richard’s film career, this time it’s yet another post about our rubbishy MPs and their outrageous 12 week Summer junket. Easy targets I know, but it’s the pomposity of it all that I find so depressing. I mean, 12 whole weeks without Parliament sitting, 12 whole weeks without this right honourable and that learned friend poking about into the guts of our lives, interfering, lecturing, taxing.

How will we get by without all those fat baldy blue rinse busy bodies to guide us? Very well I should think. Somehow, Joe and Jane Public will just manage to survive without the help of 659 parliamentary life coaches.

But what happens to the Palace of Westminster while ‘school’s out’? Could it double up as a site for a car boot sale?…. maybe it could be opened up as a soup kitchen and take in the Capital’s homeless. The slogan to attract them could be ‘Doss where there was Dross’…..

And what of the MPs - where do you think they’ve all gone to? I shouldn’t think too many of them will be at Southport Pontins or doing B and B in Scarborough.. Most of them will be going to more exotic climes –Barbados, Kathmandu, Bangkok ……. And who knows, some of them may actually pay for their own holidays rather than going on a Parliament sponsored fact finding mission.

"Yes, I’d like to go on a most vitally important fact finding mission. It’s not for me – obviously. It’s to support a vitally important part of our manufacturing base. I’d like to take photographs of sea shells on Acapulco beach in Mexico – and compare them with the sea shells on Bridlington beach. We can learn important lessons on the making of little gaudy animals with shells, glue and nail varnish, but if we can raise Mexican sea shells then we can make bigger, better and more colourful animals. This can really help the 'gaudy animal made from shells industry'. To make the research fully optimal I may also want to compare them with the shells on Waikiki beach in Hawaii, so can you put me down for a trip to Honolulu for this time next year as well"………