Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Scandal of Hospital Car Parking Charges

I can remember in the early 1980’s when I was a young hospital manager and car parking charges were introduced.

All those nice accountants in my hospital said … ‘This is only a nominal sum and merely a gesture. It will never become income we rely on in the NHS’

How times have changed …

I recently read the exclusive BBC news report (click here ) about hospital car parking - here is an extract

'Hospitals in England are each charging their patients up to £1.5m a year for car parking, the BBC has learned. Twelve hospital trusts each raised over £1m in charges, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show.'

My lesson - Confucius he say:

‘Beware he of the numbers game called NHS accountant who brings promises of jam tomorrow’

At the time in the early 80's as an outspoken young rebellious manager I complained long and hard to my bosses about my abhorrence at charging patients to park.

I was accused of being a socialist extremist.

Without being arrogant I was right and it still riles me today 20 plus years later.

It is scandalous that patients and relatives pay for being ill or visiting someone who is ill.

I have spoken to people who pay £35 per week to visit their sick next of kin in a hospital bed.

Mr Bevan will be turning in his grave.



Dan said...

That's pretty awful, having to pay to be sick or to visit the sick. I've seen hospitals here in the states where parking is free and others where they charge for parking, and I much prefer the former... not just because it's cheaper, but because it just feels more right!

Trevor Gay said...

That is my feeling too Dan - this is not a matter of cost - it is a matter of principle.

David said...

In Africa, where many things are untidy, I am aware that a nice, safe place to leave my car is very often not available. There is simply not the money to provide that service. So I pay my own parking fees ­in the form of casual car watchers, higher insurance premiums, and repeatedly cleaning the mud off the vehicle. My part: I would be happy to pay the parking fees!

David Llewellyn said...

It grieves me having to pay for parking when I visit Solihull hospital. The charges were introduced some years ago to try and stop people parking in the hospital car park and then going shopping. This abuse is still on-going as local council run car parks are still more expensive for an all day stay.

How can this sort of abuse be stopped? By its very nature, the hospital will have patient and visitor movements all day. Certainly not a problem I would like to tackle. However to make such obscene profits from car parking in not acceptable.

Trevor Gay said...

The two Davids!!

Firstly - 'Africa David' - that is a nice timely reminder about priorities - thank you

Secondly - 'Solihull David' - you are right Dave about the obscene profits being made at the expense of patients and their carers.

Mark Graban said...

So much for the "free" healthcare that we hear about in the States...

My sarcasm aside, I'm enjoying your blog, just discovered it.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for that Mark – and good to know you visit Simplicity Blog. I agree with your comments - I abhor car parking charges as I made clear in the posting.

I have marked your Blog as a favourite and will visit. Keep up the good work. I have good friend – A Vascular Surgeon - who is heavily into the LEAN in healthcare over here.

I was an operational manager in healthcare for much of my healthcare career and I am much more of a pragmatist, subjective, anecdotal type than a lover of process.

Having said that I do love process …..But in small quantities.

I believe we need a PINT of process and a GALLON of passion to make any organisation work effectively. The problem - at least over here in the NHS - is that managers love nothing more than create a GALLON of process and only a PINT of passion – and then we wonder why staff get burned out. In my experience complex processes tends to squeeze out all the creativity of front line staff.

As long as LEAN 'does what it says on the tin' and relies on the good ideas of front line staff and does not become a paper chase I am all for it.

My concern in the NHS is that the process will become the important bit … with manager filling filing cabinets with reports that no one reads just to satisfy a process. I hope I am wrong.