The NHS was established to do exactly what it said on the tin, provide health services to the nation. However, is this still true today?
The following costs may mount up causing a large dent in a loved one's pocket:
- Parking fees up to £3.50/hr
- Parking penalties if time on ticket expires
- TV use at £2.90/day*
- Internet use
- Calls to land lines at 30p/min
- Calls to mobile phones at 60p/min
* Now scrapped, but still operating in some NHS hospitals.
It was reported that Leeds Hospitals Trust netted more than £1.5million in parking fees from patients and visitors, last year alone. Shockingly, it was reported in March this year that hospitals around the country collected £95million. Some have even called it a tax on sickness. The idea of introducing parking fees was to combat parking spaces being used for purposes other than visiting the hospital, which to be fair should be targeted. However, is paying necessary? Surely there are other ways to achieve this objective, such as introducing cards on entry that are swiped in the hospital once you have made your visit. Furthermore, do we even need to charge patients, we know they are using parking spaces legitimately. The Department of Health has stated that there are exemptions for patients, but are they being used?
[If I visit a loved one for a day, say 8 hours, I would need to pay up to £28. In a week I would need to pay £196]
Parking penalties set out to achieve the same aim, discouraging people using parking spaces for purposes other than visiting the hospital. However, I do believe that a penalty in itself is very harsh as the majority of people who suffer the consequences are visitors to the hospital. Why should visitors be punished, surely they are not in the best situation to start off with. Visiting the sick may be emotionally traumatising, so to come back to your car, which has a fine slapped on the windscreen, just takes the biscuit. Many visitors have been in situations where they have had to stay by the patient's bedside (due to the patient being in labour etc) and have been fined up to £50. How can this be moral?
Staying in a hospital, staring at a dull ceiling is not very entertaining... There are probably a million and one better ways to spend one's time. How about playing a game on a mobile, or having a text conversation? No, sorry, mobiles are banned from wards. What about watching TV or surfing the net? Yes, at a cost. If in hospital for a couple of days these costs may seem small. However, stay in hospital for weeks, or even worse - months, and you can kiss goodbye to the latest ipod you've been saving up for. Hospitals seem to me as place of pain and suffering and the NHS are making it far worse by imposing a cost on entertainment available.
Finally, calls to land lines and mobiles seem astonishingly high. Most hospitals do not permit the use of mobile phones within the premises, as they apparently interfere with life saving equipment. However, every doctor in the hospital is permitted to use his or her pager. Pagers use the same technology as mobile phones, so would interfere just as much. The ban on mobiles forces patients to use the hospital phone, creating more profits for the hospital. However, it is totally understandable that the last thing anyone wishes, when they are seriously ill or dying, is to hear a cheesy ringtone such as the crazy frog blaring from their neighbour's phone umpteen times a day. The solution should be enforcing rules allowing mobile use only on silent or vibrate.
[If a loved one phones a mobile for 10 mins and a land line for 20 mins each day, that costs £12. Over a week the total is £84.]
One truely cannot afford to be ill. Hence, this poses a problem for low income earners and the unemployed. Therefore, NHS doesn't do quite what it says on the tin.
One also wonders, if the NHS nets so much money from all these hidden expenses, where does it all go?
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