Below is the wording of a press release that I have written and sent to my local media.
The Labour Party spokesperson for College Ward is calling for the capping and eventual scrapping of car parking charges at the Princess Royal Hospital. In a letter to the PRH Trust Mr Ion is asking for all charges to be capped at £1 per visit until 2012 and for the Trust to bring forward proposals to scrap the charge altogether by 2013. Speaking to Labour Party members in Wellington Mr Ion stated that: "The founding principle of the NHS was that it would offer free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare. Surely this should apply whether you go to hospital as a patient, as a visitor or a member of staff. For patients attending the PRH for out-patient treatment and visitors concerned with the health of their families, worrying about the cost of parking is the last thing they need, and as hospital procedures are notoriously unpredictable, having to rush out after a couple of hours to move their car will in many cases just not be possible. It is also the case that staff employed at the PRH frequently have to work long hours with different shift patterns and many need to travel to their place of work by car. In addition, many of the staff do not live in areas with access to suitable public transport need to travel by car. These workers, many of whom are very low paid, need access to free, safe car parking at their place of work.
In 2007/2008 patients in the Telford area, their family and friends and hospital staff who attend the RSH and the PRH paid nearly £700,000 in car parking charges. Wales and Scotland have already got rid of these charges and the sooner we end them here in England the better." According to Mr Ion the present charges constitute a tax on the sick and he cited a recent opinion poll carried out by Macmillan Cancer Support where it was found that more than half of cancer patients do not get free or discounted parking on hospital visits.
Mr Ion is also calling on the PRH Trust to review its present policy that results in porters, nurses and doctors having to pay for the privilege of parking their own cars at their place of work. "Why should hard working public servants have to pay a set fee each year to be able to park their car at their place of work? I strongly believe that the Trust should think again about charging staff to park their car. It doesn't happen in other workplaces and many staff find it a real burden" said Mr Ion.