On Monday 8th May, Jeremy Corbyn announced that Labour will end car parking charges at NHS England hospitals.
Labour intend to be able to do this by raising insurance tax on private healthcare to 20%.
That seems very fair to me.
I was talking to people visiting QA hospital this morning and they certainly welcomed these plans, as do families living in roads near the hospital.
When I arrived at QA there was a very large queue for the main car park, but there were also many cars driving slowly, trying to find parking space for a short term stay. As with hospitals all over the country, this type of parking space is in very limited supply.
But for all those patients and visitors trying to park at QA, there were others trying to find parking space outside the hospital.
The result is that roads in Wymering and Paulsgrove are often filled with cars owned by hospital visitors and staff. This is not good for local residents, who often struggle to find a place to park themselves.
However, in some ways you cannot blame QA Hospital visitors and some of their hard-pressed staff from trying to find parking space elsewhere, because the hospital parking fees are high and can add an extra burden on what is often already a stressful hospital visit or a hard and stressful day’s work.
Labour’s plan for free parking at NHS hospitals will not only take away this element of stress, but will be a huge benefit to patients – especially those who have to make frequent hospital visits – and to those visiting friends and relatives.
The plan will also benefit all those hospital staff, already suffering from having their pay frozen, and at least give them a little extra money per week to spend on essential bills.
And add free parking for staff to the promised pay increases for hospital staff under a Labour Government, and our NHS staff will at least begin to benefit from all their hard and expert work.
I can understand that some will say that raising insurance tax on private health care is not patient-friendly, but for most of us who cannot afford private health care and who are struggling to make ends meet as it is, knowing that we can park for free when we visit a hospital will be a very real help.
As Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday:
“Our hospitals are struggling from underfunding at the hands of Theresa May’s Conservative government, but the gap should not be filled by charging sick patients, anxious relatives and already hard-pressed NHS staff for an essential service. Our NHS needs a Labour government that will stand up for the many, not the few.”
I think this is excellent Labour policy. Labour knows that we need a health service we can rely on in every way. So please vote Labour on June 8th this year, to protect our NHS patients and staff.