Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Sign of the Times - NHS Parking

Before a really good meeting between the churches to discuss the troubles of the Middle East, I got a copy of The Times and read an article by Nigel Hawkes and David Rose indicating that the NHS in England is heading for a surplus this year of £1.8bn.

What I can't understand is this. If the Health Minister in London, Ben Bradshaw, is so touchy about Wales removing most of the parking charges for hospitals by 2011 why doesn't he do likewise in England and create devo harmony once again? It seems that they have plenty of money to spare after cutting everything to the bone.

There is a good convention that should have been remembered - its not on for a government minister in England to have a go at a government minister in Wales or the other way round. Beyond that, Bradshaw forgot that the waiting times between the two nations aren't calculated in the same way. They aren't that different in terms of outcomes.

By the way. Wales has also been rather busy spending money on trying to make sure that people, in the long term, don't get ill in the first place. I don't want anyone to wait a long time for treatment but I'd rather we all had healthier life styles.

I don't think the spat was about health really but about the place of private service providers in the health sector and keeping them on board. London wants to keep them happy: Cardiff has better things to do with its time. Quite right in my view. The comments from London were not well received.

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