Thursday 4 September 2008

Hospital Pass

The Scottish Government has decided to stop charges for parking at hospitals (except where centrally imposed PFI contracts make it impractical). In England, the Health Minister says this would not be a good use of resources.

I wonder.

I remember visiting my mother in hospital a couple of times when she was taken in as an emergency and having to find the change for parking, while not being sure just how long I would have to be there. I remember the charges never being round sum amounts, presumably to encourage over-payment or the opportunity to fine over-runners. I remember having to leave her in intensive care while I rushed down to feed the meter. And I remember thinking that it was not right, that the hospital was taking advantage of me and all the other visitors. Rather churlishly I also remember not leaving a donation or a gift because I thought it had screwed enough out of me.

I can see that an inner-city hospital may need some form of check to stop abuse of its parking spaces. But the majority of hospitals are there to serve a need not to make money out of incidentals. Patients need visitors as well as staff. Neither should be punished for being there.

My suspicion is that hospital managers see it as an easy and controllable form of revenue, they probably do not pay any charges themselves and they have not properly compared the costs of collecting the revenue and the revenue they could get from asking for donations with the parking revenue actually collected.

Not that this should be an economic decision. It should be about providing a service.


Troy said...

I'm with you 100% on this. If you are racing someone to A&E then the last thing you need to be worrying about is sorting out parking charges. And then the tricky question as to how many hours to buy.
I've had several hospital appointments this year and each time I've resented the need to hunt around for change or having to call into a local shop to buy something just to have some change.
Knowing our Scottish friends will be parking free just makes it even more irritating.

occasional northerner said...

A Scottish decision presumably helped by the sensless moving of hospitals out of town so people have no choice but to drive and try and find a space in (too small) car parks.