Monday, March 03, 2008

NHS: Now Truly Free!

Today the Welsh Assembly confirmed that parking at hospitals in Wales will be free from 1 April. I've always been against parking fees at hospitals because it is a tax on the sick and because it contravenes the principle of free public healthcare.

Since Thatcher, who famously hated public transport, cars have ruled supreme in Britain. Public transport is unreliable and expensive, and a person cannot maintain a working life or have a family without owning a car. Parking charges apply everywhere including hospitals, where income from such charges are now an important part of the hospitals budget.

This is of course not a problem if you accept user payment for publicly provided healthcare. The political consensus in the UK has however been that National Health Service should be free of charge. Not even the Conservatives have dared challenge that consensus. The acceptance of the widespread use of parking fees, in an otherwise tax adverse country, has eroded the principle of free health care. Politicians in England should therefore be honest and declare themselves either in favour of free universal healthcare, as the Wales, or admit that they favour user payment.


Post a Comment

<< Home