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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

NHS Charges - car parking consultation to follow failed telephone charges consultation last year

From: David Hickson – campaigner for the NHS

Whilst we wait for the Department of Health to properly sort out the failure and mess that followed the consultation on premium rate telephone charges last year, another issue has been put out to consultation.

Fairer NHS car parking charges – a consultation is launched today.

NHS providers are not always able to provide car parking facilities for in-patients, out-patients and visitors. Where they are, it is vital that this is done without breaching the principles of the NHS.

In looking at this issue, it is too easy to take a “consumerist” view, forgetting that the principles of the NHS make this wholly unacceptable as a starting point.

The realities of funding the NHS make it appropriate that proper use is made of land owned by NHS providers. A delicate and well refined approach is however necessary to ensure that proper financial management of assets does not conflict with the principles of treatment “free at the point of need”. It is vital that this does not descend into an argument about which patients should contribute towards the cost of providing NHS services and which should not.

Payment for NHS services by citizens can only come from taxation. Income from proper charges for car parking facilities must never be confused with this.

Noting the (still unresolved) mess that followed the consultation on premium rate telephone charges last year, where the clearly expressed wish of respondents was effectively disregarded, we must hope for a better outcome from this consultation.

Please contact me for further comment and information on either of these issues.

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