A columnist in US New and World Report is reporting that they are in the throes of doing away with charge parking at UK hospitals. Read all about it here. He reports, as I have many times on this blog, that the Brits are irate over hospital parking. He called my buddy David Lambeck at Republic Parking which runs a lot of hospital parking operations and Dave told him that frankly, you charge to protect the spaces. "We would be full by 6 AM if we didn’t charge."
Of course this is particularly true with hospitals located in the central city.
The USNWR Columnist (Avery Comarow) wondered why Americans don’t raise hell about hospital parking charges while everyone from the Queen on down, including the British Medical Assn, is screaming about such charges in the Motherland. He suggested that its because our health care costs so much and its free in Britian so they can more clearly see the parking charges. I think he’s on the right track but the train isn’t in the station.
Consider this. First of all, most people who go to hospitals here don’t pay when they go. They are covered by some kind of insurance which deals with the "payment" issue. They may have to pay a $10 "co pay" but that’s usually it. So I don’t think that the ‘cost’ of medical care in the US makes the difference.
It think it goes deeper than that. The Brits are trained from birth that the "nanny state" will take care of them. Period. If they need health care, its provided. If they lose their job, their mortgage is paid by the government. Hungry, call the local welfare office and dinner will be delivered, kosher or Muslim if you like. So, they EXPECT parking to be free.
Here in the US, for the most part, we are a country of self reliant cowboys. (OK, not within 50 miles of an ocean, but I digress.) When we go somewhere, we sort of expect to pay something. Parking costs, it always has, and even though most think there is an amendment in the Consititution that says parking should be free, frankly we understand that the world is, or should be, pay as you go.
We don’t seem to have nearly the issues with parking charges here as they do in the UK. British Traffic wardens are more hated that Hitler and likened to Jack the Ripper. They are spat upon, kicked, attacked, and worse. Oh sure, we have our incidents. But in the UK its a daily occurrance with headline stories in the local tabloids about the viscious ticket writers snagging an ambulance, priest giving last rights, or Santa delivering Chirstmas Presents. Hating parking fines, fees, and personnel is a national pastime.
This is a solution oriented blog and I have one for the Brits. Call David and let him run your parking operation.
I’m certain that in most or all of the hosptials he runs the medical offices and the different departments offer validations for their customers. If you are going in for recurring cancer treatment or dialysis, you get validated and your charge drops from $10 to $2. If you are visiting your cardiologist in the adjacent medical building, ditto.
Why is this so hard to understand? The parking operation needs to be self sufficient. Dave needs to get paid so he can pay his attendants, buy equipment, sweep the floors, change the light bulbs and the like. Likewise, we need to be certain that people going to the Denny’s next door to the hospital don’t use the hospital’s parking spaces. Charging stops that.
I won’t get into all the "green" reasons to charge (carpooling, enticing people to use public transportation, etc) but you get the idea.
I’m scratching my head. The Brits will find in a few months that they have no available parking at their hospitals for patients, doctors, ambulances, and staff. It will be taken by folks from the surrounding offices and apartment blocks.