The Scottish leadership of the National Health Service in Great Britain has been vocal in its desire to remove parking charges at hospitals. Terms like “tax on sickness” and “discriminating against the sick” have been bandied about.
Now we are seeing the “unintended consequences” of their campaign. The following is from the local press. The fellow quoted is in charge of the non medical operations of a hospital where these changes are to go into effect:
Mr Jack said: “We disagree with this proposal as the effective use of our property towards the delivery of healthcare requires us to retain the flexibility of use.
“Our experience is that the removal of parking charges, and the consequent increase in car usage, has had a detrimental effect on patient and staff access as parking charges previously had a disincentive effect on single occupancy car use.
“It is also worth noting that we have seen a significant increase in complaints in relation to poor access and/or inconvenience when attending hospital sites (since charges were scrapped].”
The Scottish Government announced last year that parking charges at most hospitals – excepting those built under PFI like the ERI – would be abolished.
Privately, NHS Lothian chiefs were angry at the move because it could have turned the Western and St John’s into virtual park-and-ride facilities.
I love the last line. That’s exactly the problem. By not charging, the hospital’s parking is turned into a place for all the folks nearby to park, taking space needed for staff and patients.
Pete Seeger was talking about war, but the line fits here, too. “When will they ever learn?”