Content editor, Joanna Lowy, comments on all things health-related, and gives you a sneaky peek into her news-based medical musings of the week. Sometimes controversial, other times humorous, always straight from the heart; here you get to know the girl behind the facts! Enjoy! Comments welcome and invited!
The NHS. We love them. No-one can argue with the fantastic work they do, and the millions of lives they save each year (well, some can, but that’s not really the point, is it?) But there’s one thing that really angers me, and that’s having to pay for parking when visiting.
You might think I’m a bit late with this comment, after all, surely this is old news? But after a recent article caught my attention, I feel compelled to moan about this issue which has actually bothered me for years.
Hospital workers this week said it is a “joke” that they have to pay to park their cars at work, and it is. Employees at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital in Staffordshire flooded the Mail’s website this week with complaints of having to pay ?11 a month to park in the staff car parks, and worker Amanda Bally was just one of many to have her say. “I know it is only ?11 a month”, she states, “but when you think of ?132 a year, it is a lot”. But hang on just one second.
Before anyone starts jumping on the bandwagon, let’s spare a moment for both patients and visitors who are also not only obliged to pay for the privilege of, er, going to hospital, but are facing fees of up to 58 times higher than the average NHS worker. Because let’s say, an NHS employee works a minimum of 40 hours a week (and that really is minimum), then by dividing this into their monthly fee of ?11, we can see they are spending just 0.069 pence an hour. Compare this with the maximum band of ?4 per hour that the coalition government recently announced is acceptable for hospitals to charge visitors, and you’ve got a colossal discrepancy.
It makes absolutely no sense. By all means, stop child benefits, cut university places, and increase VAT, if necessary, but for goodness sake, kicking those that are already obviously down by charging an extortionate amount of money to receive medical care? Surely this just defeats the whole purpose of a free health service!
Headlines like “NHS budget escapes Osborne’s cuts” have been excitedly filling the healthcare pages of the media since plans were announced (intermittently, of course, in between an equal number of challenges to these claims in the form of headlines such as “NHS facing ?6bn a year shortfall”) , but ultimately, if the real beneficiaries of the NHS were truly being protected, these disgusting fees (which, by the way, have existed for almost as long as I can remember), would have at least been reduced, if not scrapped altogether.
After all, if the two shopping centres which I so habitually frequent can still allow me to park for free, then what the hell does the NHS think they are doing?