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Sense and sensitivity

Betsan Powys | 11:49 UK time, Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Guess who'll have a satisfied smile on her face when the Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, announces at Labour's party conference that a re-elected Labour government would scrap car parking charges for in-patients attending hospitals in England?

The promise, we're told, will be to phase out the car parking charges over three years. The move will cost £140 million each year and would be paid for by cutting unidentified "bureaucracy and back room costs".

Apparently, if necessary, the UK government would legislate to introduce the move.

Not the policy of abolishing car parking charges for all as introduced by Edwina Hart and the Welsh Assembly Government. This is for in-patients only - not a free for all.

All the same she would probably be forgiven for recalling what the Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said back then:

"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".

By the sounds of things, it makes a bit more sense now than it did then.


A word of praise from Wayne David now over the way Edwina Hart has 'led the way' over car parking charges.

'I welcome the statement by Andy Burnham today that the NHS in England is following the Labour-led approach in Wales to free parking at hospitals. Mr Burnham clearly signalled his intention today to give free parking permits to families visiting in patients. This is an example of Wales leading the way, and I applaud it.'

Why no word from Mr David's boss? Perhaps because the Welsh Secretary made his own views on the sustainability of offering free car parking in hospitals pretty clear ... last Sunday just as he did in March last year?


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  • 1. At 1:31pm on 30 Sep 2009, John Henry wrote:

    "Pork Barrel Politics", always sensible to those selling and eating the pork, if you are not a pork connoisseur, best eat ..... cake.

    Desperate remedies for disparate times .....

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  • 2. At 3:03pm on 30 Sep 2009, thegnatswatter wrote:

    I suppose it is something else for David Cameron to axe?

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  • 3. At 4:01pm on 30 Sep 2009, mapex55 wrote:


    Maybe if ALL car parking charges were abolished here in Wales, but they ain't.

    A recent visit to the MRI scanning unit in the Heath cost me over £4 for a stay of just over an hour.

    When I asked about the so called free parking, I was informed that because the 'contract' between the Heath and the parking operator was still in force, and would be until 2032, it could not take the charging off at the Heath.

    Much as the case of the free 'scripts, the estimated number receiving these are puny when considering the number across the Dyke, as most in Wales were/are on benefits of one sort or another anyway.

    In other words, we did not get the full story, truth, and facts.
    So why should I expect things to change, despite the outpourings of political wannabee's?
    I have seen many comments from those able to pay, to ask why not a means tested regime, as they would be quite willing to pay, thereby saving a substantial annual sum for the NHS.

    Maybe if Cameron gets in, that will be, at the very least, the next step on the ladder. I do not support a Tory victory, but would welcome a more transparent attitude to both parking, and prescriptions.

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  • 4. At 4:25pm on 30 Sep 2009, Returnee wrote:

    I suggest we have free bi-lingual car parking and a premium of £5 per hour who want English only car parking.

    Right, where's my tin helmet?

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  • 5. At 4:41pm on 30 Sep 2009, penddu wrote:


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  • 6. At 5:10pm on 30 Sep 2009, daverodway wrote:

    "always sensible to those selling and eating the pork, if you are not a pork connoisseur, best eat ..... cake."

    Sheer poetry, Stoney, sheer poetry. Generations of critics will be poring over that nugget of lyrical wisdom. It's good to see an old-fashioned bard still putting our treasured English language through its paces in these dark bilingual days. It's when I read comments like those that I know we English-speaking Welsh have the very highest calibre of surrealists in our midst.

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  • 7. At 5:13pm on 30 Sep 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    5 - LOBNH

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  • 8. At 6:13pm on 30 Sep 2009, Dirwestwr wrote:

    How many back rooms are left to raid to raise finance? The real fear is that groundbreaking projects in Wales will suffer if the lollipop policy culture continues into the time of austerity.

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  • 9. At 7:28pm on 30 Sep 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Dirwestwr #8

    We don't have any "Groundbreaking Projects" in Wales do we?

    We spend our money on more important things!!!

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  • 10. At 10:20pm on 30 Sep 2009, Ian wrote:

    The Foundation Phase education policy is ground breaking in the UK and I believe will bring profound benefits to Wales in the future.
    What is interesting about the English U Turn is that Burnham is forgetting the patronising comments he made about Wales when we got there first, as we did with getting rid of SATS tests and how we would have been on the smoking ban if we had the powers to do so.

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  • 11. At 09:47am on 01 Oct 2009, penddu wrote:

    7 - I had to look up what that meant....but no probs as I have a sense of humour..

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  • 12. At 11:27am on 01 Oct 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    #11 Thanks - should have included #4 in the credits.

    I'd give you a web link to a whole list of them - but it would only give you more Ammo, and your already pretty heavily gunned :).

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  • 13. At 10:26pm on 25 Oct 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    [Guess who'll have a satisfied smile on her face when the Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, announces at Labour's party conference that a re-elected Labour government would scrap car parking charges for in-patients attending hospitals in England?]

    That would be very good news, but, I am not advocating a general
    election in the United Kingdom....

    ~Dennis Junior~

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