YEP Letters: November 16

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Check out today’s YEP letters

Stop the sniping at Theresa May

Hilary Andrews, Leeds.

IS it only me who is fed up to the back teeth with the media and its constant sniping at Theresa May? She has a difficult enough job without TV and newspapers constantly speculating how long she will last as PM and how weak her Government position is.

We are at a vital time in our country’s history when we are on the verge of setting the UK free from the yoke of a bullying EU who, instead of having meaningful talks, keep repeating that the UK must make itself “clearer”.

This is a euphemism for them saying they want us to continue paying for their lavish excesses. Leave Mrs May alone and get behind the Brexit negotiators. Otherwise Theresa May could be tempted to tweet what she thinks of us all, just like the disastrous President of the United States.

Staff also penalised by parking charges

Dr John WL Puntis, Leeds ‘Keep Our NHS Public’

As your article on hospital car park charges points out, it is not just patients and visitors but also staff who are penalised financially.

For example with regard to fines, many of the persistent offenders are senior doctors moving to and fro between hospitals, who despite paying £60 a month for parking can’t find a designated space when they arrive to do an outpatient clinic. Charges are also levied on those who only use their car for making out of hours and emergency visits to see patients.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust needs to be open and honest about why it imposes car parking charges and fines - and it is not to deter shoppers.

From 1992 the Treasury required hospitals to pay back 6% annual interest on the value of their capital assets. This ‘capital charge’ (effectively a tax on hospitals) was presented as a way of ensuring that assets were used more efficiently.

Places like the LGI with inherited expensive assets (high value real estate in the centre of town) had to give back large amounts of money without being able to recoup the costs by charging proportionately more for providing services.

To compensate, managers were forced to consider how to generate income, including car park charges at rates comparable to nearby private car parks (i.e. efficient use of assets).

This is an example of how the slow march of privatisation and the drive for hospitals to be more like businesses has made them less sensitive to the needs of patients, visitors and staff.

The current reforms driven by NHS England are leading us further down this route, with longer waiting lists, rationing and withdrawal of some treatments as a consequence.

To object to car parking charges and fines is to oppose the current business model of health care where financial considerations override the best interests of patients.

Hospitals must charge the going rate

Geoff North, Leeds

I REFER to your article concerning the abolition of hospital parking charges. The reality is that hospitals have to charge the going rate in the area for parking.

If you offered free parking all that would happen, in particular at an hospital in a city centre like the LGI in Leeds, would be that non-hospital users would use the car park such that hospital users would never get a parking place.

In addition, the cost of building car parks has to be paid for and some of the parking charge goes towards this cost. If parking facilities were free, the costs of building and running them would be robbed from healthcare.

I have been using the multi-storey car park at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, for several months to visit an elderly friend in the hospital and fortunately I have always been able to find a parking space.

You only pay on exit for the amount of time you have used so there is no question of a penalty charge.

The charge of £2.90 for two hours is quite reasonable and I do not begrudge it for a safe and secure car park and I am sure that any small profit the hospital makes goes towards improvement of the health care facilities.

I have also used the pay-and-display facilities on the Beckett Street car parks over the years for when I was receiving treatment at the hospital.

While I could normally judge reasonably well how long I would need, on a couple of occasions my treatment was delayed and the hospital staff kindly gave me a note to that effect which successfully allowed me to appeal against a parking penalty charge.

Mr Robert Halfon MP wants to get into the real world and appreciate that the hospital authorities, certainly in Leeds, are doing a pretty fair job on this matter and have been able over the last few years to improve the parking facilities at both our main hospitals.

One wonders whether certain MPs just jump on a bandwagon for their own personal glorification than any understanding of the facts. There are more important issues to discuss in Parliament than this.

Investment in social care

Coun Izzi Seccombe, Chairman, Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board.

THERE cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable adult social care system.

Adult social care services provide invaluable care and support for older and disabled people.

Investing in social care keeps people out of hospital and living independent, dignified lives at home and in the community. It is the single best investment to alleviate pressure on our vital NHS services.

Social care services face an annual funding gap of £2.3bn by 2020.

Councils have long argued that it is a false economy to pump money into the NHS while leaving social care chronically underfunded.

While local government will have managed reductions to its core funding from central Government totalling £16bn between 2010 and 2020, we estimate that NHS spending will have increased by just under £20bn over the same period.

As a nation, we urgently need to recognise the importance of adult social care and prevention of poor health.

We need to shift perceptions and make adult social care just as important in the public eye and within government as the NHS.

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Indira Gandhi (1917 - 1984), Indian politician and daughter of Nehru. She was assassinated in 1984 by members of her Sikh bodyguard.   (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

YEP Letters: November 17

YEP Letters: November 15