The founding principle of the NHS was that it would offer free-at-the-point-of-delivery health care. Surely this should apply whether you go to hospital as a patient, as a visitor or a member of staff. It's simply not fair to expect patients or visitors to have to pay when they come to hospital, when they may be suffering personal anxiety, stress or grief. This is just one reason why I strongly believe that the Government should consider to capping or scrapping car parking charges in England (they have already been abolished in Wales and Scotland). According to the DoH the NHS ended the last financial year with a £1.75 billion surplus, surely it would not be unreasonable to use a small amount of this total surplus to offset the £95 million that NHS Trusts took from car parking charges in 2006-2007?
Britain is experiencing an ever widening health care divide, under which patients in England are denied services and benefits enjoyed by those living elsewhere in the UK. For example in Scotland, NHS patients have access to more cancer drugs, benefit from free eye tests and get free personal care when elderly. In Wales prescriptions are free, while English patients must pay £6.85. Abolishing car parking charges at England's NHS hospitals would be a small but significant gesture and one that would illustrate the desire for fairness and equity to be at the centre of public policy.