Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Free Parking?

The decision to scrap hospital parking charges announced today has exposed a rift between Labour in the Assembly and the Labour Health Minister in London Ben Bradshaw.

Speaking on the BBC radio programme PM he said "We don't think it makes sense to spend money that's currently being spent on patient care, getting people treated faster and better on subsidising car parks - if that's what Scotland and Wales want to do, that's one of the joys of devolution.

"We're spending the money on improving patient care - in Wales, you have to wait much longer for your operation, you have to wait much longer in A+E, you're not going to enjoy the extended GP opening hours that patients in England are soon going to be enjoying. Those are the priorities that we think the English patients are more interested in, rather than subsidising anyone who wants to park in a hospital car park for free."

At Welsh Questions in Parliament this week - we were given the figures namely that 82 patients in England are waiting longer than 13 weeks for their first outpatient appointment. In Wales the figure is 47, 698. The adage there is no such thing as a free lunch comes to mind. What is certain is that the way this has been announced will ensure that hospital trusts face an increase in their deficits and where will this funding shortfall be felt.....I suspect in frontline services.